Are You Hovering?
I’ve been hearing a lot about helicopter parenting lately. It’s natural for parents to want to protect our children and help them to be successful. And while there are a lot of ways in which we can help to prepare our children for adulthood, over-parenting is not one of them. In fact, it can do more harm than it does good. Parents who are too involved in their children’s lives prevent them from developing self-confidence and resilience.
Children need to learn to make decisions and to take responsibility for doing their own work. If parents always help them, they are sending the message to their children that they aren’t capable of doing these things on their own. Sure they might get a better grade, but they aren’t building the self-confidence they will need to succeed later in life.
Resilience is another essential life skill. We learn to be resilient by overcoming adversity, by falling and then getting up and trying again. Parents can provide encouragement and be a safe-haven where children seek comfort when they fail, but parents who protect their children from ever failing are preventing them from developing resilience.
Another extremely important factor for success in life is having a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. People with a growth mindset believe their abilities can be developed with effort, whereas people with a fixed mindset believe they were born with their abilities and there is nothing they can do to change them.
Parents can help their children develop a growth mindset by teaching them to value learning and improvement over perfect performance, by letting them struggle and make mistakes, and by showing them that challenges can be fun. It is especially important to praise children for their effort and not their intelligence.
So there are many things that parents can do to increase the chances that their children become happy, successful adults, but doing everything for them is not one of them. As hard as it might be, you have to let them struggle, make mistakes, and, yes, even fail.