A Letter to Helicopter Parents

Dear Helicopter Parents

Dear Helicopter Parent,

As school starts and the kids head out the door, keep this in mind:

“IT’S TIME FOR HELICOPTER PARENTS TO LAND, AND STAY GROUNDED!”

This headline from a Science Daily article says it all. The article discusses a study done through Brigham Young University that points out that research (and more research) shows that helicopter parenting – taking an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of a child is detrimental to the self-worth of the child and increases risky behaviors. The study surveyed 438 college students who were raised by overly protective parents. Take a minute to read it: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150601172933.htm.

We all love our kids. We would do just about anything for them. But trying to live your child’s life by solving all their problems and conflicts for them does not really help them to grow into independent, self reliant adults.

As I’m writing this send-to-all letter, I’m thinking it really should go to parents of young children. The attitude and resilience of kids is formed early on. Each time a child falls down, how do you react? When there are disappointments, what do you do?

I had a client who felt that her child was never really responsible for any difficulty that came her way. The teacher criticized the child’s behavior?  Well, it must be that the teacher can’t control the class. The friends said they did not want to come to play because she doesn’t share toys? Well, the kids were just mean, and new friends were needed. It was never her child’s fault.

This mom felt constantly overwhelmed.  She said, “Parenting is a lot harder than I thought.  I have to be on guard all the time. After all, it’s my job to protect my daughter from disappointments – she’s so young, and the real world comes along soon enough.”

I asked when the right time was to allow for disappointments, and she just shrugged and sighed. “What would happen,” I continued, “if your daughter got caught pushing someone on the playground – and you did not make excuses for her? How would she handle the situation herself?  What would it teach her?”

We worked together for several sessions dealing with her concerns and feelings, and slowly but surely this mom began to realize that not always rescuing her daughter was the best parental protection she could give.

Let them Make Choices and Feel the Consequences of Their Own Decisions

Parents, please allow your young children to feel some of those bumps on the road to adulthood. Let them make choices and feel the consequences of their own decisions. Of course, you will be there to offer direction, love, and support but do not fight the kids’ battles or solve their problems.

Help your kids by giving them the opportunity to solve their own problems.

Help your kids by giving them the opportunity to solve their own problems.

Dr. Wendy Mogel, Clinical Psychologist and author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus shares five traits she sees in adults who are the result of helicopter parenting:

  1. They have to call Mom and Dad before making a decision.
  2. They count their parents as their best friends.
  3. While dependent of their parents for many things, they also resent them.
  4. They are incredibly anxious.
  5. They are perfectionists who are obsessed with credentials.   

If your child is already grown and you realize you were a ‘hoverer,’ it’s ok. I know that you were doing what you thought was best to protect and show your love. Just keep in mind the traits listed above as you deal with your adult kids.

And for all of those with young children and who still have the opportunity to parent, try not to launch the helicopter in the first place.  But if it is already in the air, “IT’S TIME TO LAND IT, AND STAY GROUNDED!”

Good luck – and let me know if I can help,

Loretta

Photo credits: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Aleutie and © Can Stock Photo Inc. / ocusfocus

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Teach Your Kids the Real Meaning of ‘Like’

Talking-to-Your-Kids

Do you sometimes wonder if your parenting efforts make a difference?  Are you curious whether all the rules and reminders you put into place really sink in? You’ll certainly have a chance to evaluate once your child reaches adolescence.

Living in a Social Media World

I recently read a story about how social media affects the brain.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/12/health/social-media-brain/

In our world of LIKES and SHARES and the preoccupation with technology, our kids have become trained to constantly search for feedback.

According to Lauren Sherman, lead researcher at UCLA’s Brain Mapping Center, “When teens learn that their own pictures have supposedly received a lot of ‘likes,’ they show significantly greater activation in parts of the brain’s reward circuitry.  

Reward circuitry.  The more ‘likes,’ the more a feeling of being rewarded and valued.  Let’s admit it – we all like to be ‘liked.’ But can these new teens control their urges?

Your Parental Influence Does Make a Difference

I want to remind parents that this is the time when your parental influence DOES make a difference. Your kids will be put in situations when they have to make serious choices. They will feel peer pressure, and they will find themselves considering their family values – and your reactions – as they make decisions about who they are and how they want to be viewed by others.

I often talk with parents who say, “My six-year-old is just out of control. He runs our house!” I listen and then ask a few pertinent questions that hopefully lead them to reconsider their own actions in the role of parent. Being nice and loving is not enough. You are not there to collect ‘likes.’

We all know the longing for approval is especially strong when kids reach adolescence. Will I be the one who won’t take a sip?  How can I not laugh at that chubby girl when everyone else around me is?

If you have laid a strong foundation of love, empathy, sensitivity and openness for your child, your guidance and their conscience will kick in and help them make smart choices. They will value your approval above that of their friends.

Building that Strong Foundation

I have written what I call a “Handbook” for Parents (and one for Grandparents) that includes 10 simple suggestions for facing the hard challenges that parenting poses.

10-Great-Tips-for-PARENTING

You can purchase a copy of the book from the 10 Great Tips Handbooks page or get a free download when you subscribe to this blog.

There is no definitive recipe for how to raise kind and responsible kids but I think that these suggestions, when coupled with your own common sense, will get you on the right path. And more importantly, they will get your kids on the right path to knowing that following their conscience rather than the total number of “likes” of a photograph or post is the goal.

Start early to help and support your kids and their choices. Be the involved parent; be the teacher and the guide that your child needs.  Don’t let your kids run your house.

And, by the way, whether on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or simply because you are reading this, I really do ‘like’ you.

Loretta

Photo credits: Celebelle and © Can Stock Photo Inc. / dndavis

6 Basic Rules for Kids + Technology

6 Basic Rules for Kids plus Technology

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / dolgachov

I came across an interesting article this week on apps that help you control your use of apps – and other digital distractions!  Have you ever thought about how much of your day is spent on a screen? Most of us think that it’s not much, and yet we keep our phones at the ready in outside pockets, our kindle sits on the desk waiting for break time and a good read, and the laptops are there when we quickly want to know the difference between Instagram and Snapchat.  Now, if we are so enamored with our devices, what about the kids?

I recently gave a talk titled Reducing Kid’s Screen Time … Without the Battle, to a group of parents who were quite frustrated with trying to handle their kid’s use of technology.  I divided the talk into two parts because I felt that there were two distinct areas that had to be considered.

Part One: Your Relationship with Your Kids

Part One included spending a lot of time talking about Your Relationship With Your Kids, i.e. Who is in Charge?  I reminded them that ultimately it is the parent’s job … to parent.  I suggested they give themselves a little test and try being the objective person who looks in on the family dynamic, and then answer that question: Who is in Charge?

Regardless of the whining or the reasoning or the quality of the tantrum, it is the parent who has the power over both the child and the device.  I shared a few basic rules that I feel are important when dealing with kids and technology.  They are simple and straightforward.

6 BASIC RULES FOR KIDS + TECHNOLOGY

1 – Give kids a 10 minute warning before unplugging (and let them keep the timer)

2 – No technology use in the bedroom

3 – No technology use in the car (except long-distance car trips)

4 – No technology use during meals

5 – Devices must be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime

6 – Parents control the central charging station – often the kitchen

Part 2: Your Relationship with Technology

Now I think you see where I’m going with Part Two in the challenge of reducing kid’s screen time, The Relationship With Yourself. This is a very important part of the dynamic because children are copycats, and you are their ROLE MODEL.   Whether you signed up for that job or not, you’re it.

This is where awkward comes in.  We all love our devices.  We defend them as time savers, gold mines of research, our link to friends and family, and so much more. We often deny that we use them ‘that much,’ and we even get mad at store clerks and receptionists who are checking their email and Facebook.  In fact, I’ll bet that you would be truly surprised to find out how much time in a day you actually spend in front of a screen.

Because I want you to realize how your day is spent, and because I want to remind you that you are your child’s role model, and because I think that we all need to make more time to interact with each other, I offer this article.  Become familiar with apps like StayFocusd, Momentum., and RescueTime. I intend to. The more you are in control of your own screen time activities, the more time you will have for your family.

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160531/news/305319922/

Now, go play with your kids.

Loretta