We’ve heard a lot recently about helicopter parenting. Most all parents immediately reject the notion that they might be one. In defending themselves, they usually reference protecting their kids’ safety, success and happiness. It’s probably not worth indicting or crucifying them. The issue is – where do we go from here? Here’s a parallel: when I worked in a school district, in assessing student’s learning problems, oft-times a neurologist was called in to determine if there was brain damage. REGARDLESS of the neurologist’s finding, the prescriptive remediation and individualized educational plan WAS THE SAME. In like fashion, whether you or anyone is ‘convicted’ of being a helicopter parent, here’s what you should do or should have been doing:
- · EVERY failure, whether in the classroom or athletic field should be treated as a learning opportunity. Years ago, I heard the expression “don’t lose the lesson.” Life teaches us lessons about itself every day – but we must be attuned AND open to learning them.
- · In a casual, conversational, non-accusatory way, walk your student through the defeat: in your heart of hearts, being honest with yourself, what went wrong?” “Did you not put enough effort into it?” “Did you not know, clearly and specifically what you were supposed to do?” “Were you too embarrassed to ask what you thought would be heard as a dumb question?” [The answer to that is “the only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask” – because – inevitably – someone else ALSO didn’t get it.
- Treat them like peers or friends. The minute you talk down to them, you’re losing them. Value their mind and their thoughts.
- Remember – recent research shows that a negative comment has FOUR TIMES the impact of a positive comment or compliment.
· In my (other) work, developing business leaders, there are two basics: Leadership is influence. To influence anyone, you must (a) listen to them and (b) meet or fill their needs. A manager who dictates what employees should do gets far less productivity than the one who connects the needed task(s) or projects to the employee’s dreams and goals. Same thing with your student!!
- As a parent, your function is to LEAD your student toward his/her optimum success and happiness. Teach them a model or process to deal with defeat and failure and they’ll learn and value one of life’s most valuable and powerful lessons. Explain how you’ve handled defeats and whether or not it worked. As in much of life, showing your vulnerability can be bonding.
· Whether you’re helicoptering or over-parenting or just compassionate, allow them to fail and get themselves back up.
· And if you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate!
Steve Simons, Launch-Your-Life.com