Are You a Helicopter Parent? 5 Ways to Stop Being One
Here are 5 ways to let your children learn without being over-bearing and over-protective.
Whenever I go to my son’s school for an event, a neatly laid out table, displaying the best project works from my boy’s batch are on display. Eager kids nudge their parents, who look at their child’s work with great pride, a look that often shames parents like me.
My kids have never had any of their works displayed or showcased.
A glance at the project work, and you know in an instant that the parents have put in more effort than the child.
In our quest to be the best, we want our children to be perfect. So, we end up taking a remedial action without giving them a chance to prove themselves.
Too caught up to read? Listen to the story:
Let me add that I am guilty of it too. Deep down I realise that I am probably doing no favours to my child’s self esteem.
Do you remember the playground from your childhood where you spent long evenings on the swing being reckless? Yes there were times you got hurt, but did your parents stop you from going out the next day?
We grew up alright, yet we want to protect our children. Their playgrounds are set on soft turf or are padded so that they don’t get hurt. Forget about them feeling the wind in the hair when they cycle. They’re probably padded with that extra layer of protective material that they’ll want to save before they save themselves if they fall.
So, what can we do to stop being that over-protective helicopter parent and let the children know that it’s okay to falter?
Here are 5 ways to let your children learn, without being over-bearing and over-protective.
Let Them Learn From their Mistakes
So my boys are at a phase where their teachers are always right.
If I tell them what they’ve written in the homework sheet isn’t correct, pat comes the reply, “but my teacher said that this was the right way to do it.” I usually let the mistake go and a cross from the red pen makes them realise they are wrong.
If you choose to correct them all the time, there will be be no room left for them to learn from their mistakes. They’ll never know what it is like to make a mistake!
Let Them Take Up Responsibilities
Children can take up chores/responsibilities that are age-appropriate. Has it ever happened to you that your child comes back home miffed because YOU did not remind him to complete an assignment? It’s happened in our house and we turned it into a learning moment.
I told the children that they were the ones going to school and taking homework notes. It wasn’t my job to remind them of their assignments. Two punishments later, they were sorted!
Explain Failure to Your Child
Failure is not something that one should be ashamed of, everyone learns from their failures.
Use this as an example to explain to your child that it’s alright to fail. Tell them what you learned from a failure in your life and how it changed things for you. Sharing experiences, real life stories can make you a role model for your child. It will teach them how to handle disappointment and frustrations as they grow up.
As parents, we really are the best teachers and influencers, so be that good example.
Moderate Their Behaviour, Don’t Control It
Sometimes I do turn into that nagging mom who is breathing down their neck telling them what to do, what to wear, what to eat, when to sleep…get the drift?
While it is ALRIGHT to do this once in a while, nagging can’t be the norm.
When you always tell your children what to do, you are actually controlling their lives.
What you need to do instead is to lay down basic ground rules and let your children make their own decisions. And face the consequences that come out of them.
Let Them Speak Their Mind
“I know what you are thinking,” whenever my mother said this to me, it would leave me baffled. Was she a clairvoyant?
When you tell your child this, you are controlling his thoughts and actions, giving him no leeway to express himself.
Psychologists label this as “mental intrusion.” What happens when children cannot voice their thoughts and feelings? There is a lack of self-expression and they’ll always expect someone else to know what is on their mind.
As a parent, you need to let them decide what they want to share with you and how they want to express it. You’ll be raising children who won’t suppress their feelings.
As parents, it is but natural that we shield and protect them instinctively. While we do owe them love and protection, we also owe them a sense of learning – something that will help them take the right decisions in life.
They need to know and learn from their share of disappointments, fears, pains and frustrations. It’s these lessons that will instill self-knowledge and make them grow stronger.
(Pratibha spent her childhood in idyllic places only fauji kids would have heard of. When she's not rooting for eco-living or whipping up some DIY recipes to share with her readers, Pratibha is creating magic with social media. You can view her blog at www.pratsmusings.com or reach to her on Twitter at @myepica.)
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