How not to be a helicopter parent: If you do everything for your child – from feeding him to doing his homework and so on – your child is going to grow up to be a helpless adult.
A helicopter parent is a parent who literally “hovers” over their kid at all times, managing almost all aspects of their lives including studies and social interactions.
Of course, such parents do this only with their child’s best interests at heart. But recently, former dean of prestigious US-based Stanford University Julie Lythcott-Haimes said that helicopter parenting can do more harm than good to a child, especially as he grows into a young adult.
Here are four easy steps to avoid becoming a helicopter parent, based on Lythcott Haimes’ book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.
1. Watch your language
Stop using the word “we”, when you really mean your child. “We’re” not in the soccer team and “we’re” not doing that science project. Your child is.
When you start giving ownership of important things happening in your child’s life to your child, you can, says Lythcott-Haimes, begin to step back out of their way and let them be at the forefront of their dreams and aspirations.
Stop questioning or confronting other adult mentors in your child’s life.
2. Stop questioning other adults who play important roles in your child’s life
If you find yourself arguing with your child’s teachers, coaches or other important mentors, perhaps you’re just a little too invested in your child’s life.
By letting these other adults do what they do the best and allowing your child to interact with and question them independently, you’re teaching your child a very important lesson: how to advocate for himself.
Stop doing your child’s homework for him!
3. Stop doing their work for them
Yes, we want to see our kids do well at school and so we spend time doing their maths homework or science projects for them. But this is likely to result in a never-ending cycle of learned helplessness in your child — so stop doing their work for them.
Be there for them if they need guidance but let them feel that sense of achievement and accomplishment when theiy nail a school project on their own.
Put independence in your teenager’s way. Show her how to cook a meal on her own, use public transport etc.
4. Put independence in their way
When your children are old enough (ideally, the teenage years), encourage independence in them by asking them to run errands, teaching them to cook meals on their own, using public transport on their own and so on.
Lythcott-Haimes says this is not bad or neglectful, but in contrast it teaches your child valuable social skills such as self-sufficiency and confidence.
Mums and dads, remember this: as Lythcott-Haimes says, putting yourself out of your job as parents is the only way you’ll know you’ve successfully raised an adult.
Mums and dads, do share your own tips about how to encourage independence and self-reliance in a child. Just leave a comment below.