Helicopters and Submarines
A recent article in cnn.com used the phrase, “helicopter parent” to describe parents who “hover” too much. Of course, we want to protect our children and we want to protect them from danger, but how do we do that “hovering” in a way that won’t keep them from learning their own independent strengths. Children should feel those joys found thorough success.
Deborah Skolnik of Parenting.com writes about a young boy who has learned to bring “any challenging task” to his parents because he knows they will do the task for him. Skolnik also explains that Psychologists at the University of Washington studied more than 200 kids and their moms for three years, and found that when a child already had pretty good judgment and self-control, having a heli-mom who provided too much guidance and not enough independence raised his risk of becoming anxious or depressed.
Become More Like a Submarine
Silvana Clark, author of “Fun-Filled Parenting: A Guide to Laughing More and Yelling Less,” suggests that parents, rather than hovering like the helicopters, should become more like submarines and should “stay close by — in case of real danger — but mostly out of sight, so [your child] gets out of the habit of running to you for every problem.”
As a parent, I can resist the urge to finish my child’s puzzles, but what about when children are nearing middle school and beyond? The urge to “hover” sometimes increases when parents realize that adolescent activities potentially lead to failure and riskier situations – making the basketball team, earning GPA points on transcripts, and even driving a car. Parents should remain “submarines” even during this adolescent stage of our children’s lives.
Combat the Hovering
Combat the urge to “hover” by helping young adults set small goals that, when attained, will build a sense of independence, allowing them to feel responsible for their own worlds. Parents can help find “smart challenges” for their children:
- Find a Summer Camp for your child. Your child doesn’t have to leave you for the week. Find a local experience. Schools like Charleston Collegiate have week-long science, arts, sports, and outdoor camps that will help your child achieve a sense of independence and accomplishment. (www.ccssummer.org)
- Help your child try a new sport or a new skill. Cooking classes are great ways to learn new skills and then bring the successes home to parents and siblings.
- Find a fun contest and enter it.
- Participate in a summer reading challenge. Many local libraries have incentives for summer reading. Parents can even read the books at the same time and talk about them at dinner. (www.ccpl.org)
Kimberly Blouin and Elizabeth Boyd are both master teachers at Charleston Collegiate School on Johns Island where they lead SAT Prep courses. Kimberly Blouin is also the Director of Summer Programs.