I was chatting with a colleague this morning about the trials and tribulations of everyday life and the hassles and lessons that we must endure with our children. She was saying that her daughter was teary this morning because she had left her assignment to the last minute and the last minute had come and gone. Instead of bailing her daughter out and writing a note to excuse her of her tardiness, my colleague made her daughter wear the consequences, whatever they may be, time will tell. I was surprised by this action but then she went on to explain that she had bailed her daughter out too many times before and it was time for her daughter to take responsibility and my colleague is hoping that this will lead to the next assignment getting handed in on time.
Too many times we pave the way for our children because we don’t want them to be upset or we don’t want them to fail, helicopter parents have become a thing of the past and have made way for lawnmower parents who clear any obstacles in their children’s path so that the child may never experience disappointment, stress, sadness, agitation etc, etc, ……these are natural emotions that make up our whole wellbeing system.
A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald refers to a 5 year study carried out that clearly concluded that parents who interfere too much in the lives of their children are in fact setting them up for disaster. Experts agree that over-parenting can result in low self-esteem in children and can also create anxiety. If children aren’t allowed to make mistakes how are they going to learn the skills of resilience and confidence, let alone actual everyday skills? By doing everything for your child and ‘mowing a clear path’ for them you are actually implying to them that what they do isn’t good enough. You are depriving them of learning opportunities and the opportunity to make and learn from mistakes.
Children who are never allowed to do make mistakes or do anything for themselves are going to become self-critical about everything that they are allowed to experience. If parents are always there to clean up the mess, both physically and metaphorically a child is never going to learn to take responsibility for any of their actions.
Next time a situation presents itself where you feel yourself taking over, just take a step back, breathe and let your child have the experience – it may be as simple as carrying their own school bag, washing their own hair, pouring a glass of milk or preparing a sandwich – there may be mess and you will want to step in – DON’T – allow your child to have the experience. Simple.
There is a quote from Albert Einstein that clearly summarises this entire article “A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new”.