Positive Parenting Without
The Shock of Letting your Children Go.
Today I am beginning Part One of a Five Part Series in Positive Parenting for Long Term Benefit amongst the increase of micro-managing children.
As the importance of childhood has become clearer and let’s face it, the era of children being seen and not heard, wasn’t at all beneficial and nourishing for children’s hearts, it seems that the pendulum has swung all the way over to the extreme side of ‘hands-on parenting’. Many parents find themselves very much immersed in the age of the ‘helicopter parent’.
The term ‘helicopter parent’ basically means hovering a little too close, micro-managing a child’s every move, trying to correct them before they fall or fail and hoping that they are saved from any sort of disappointment or disillusionment.
A few years ago in Australia, when our twin girls were only just toddling, I realised I needed a break, which for me at the time, was in the form of a few days away from the home.
I was fortunate enough to find employment across the road from our house, at a local private college, spending quite a lot of my hours on the Reception Desk of the primary school.
It was during this period, that I first began to experience ‘helicopter parenting’ to the absolute extreme.
Mother’s, many, many, many of them, some two or three times a day, would come into the office to “have a word” about their child.
Now, I am all for sharing legitimate reasons to ensure children are well looked after or kept an eye on, but I was soon to discover, that legitimate and micro-managing were not compatible.
Some parents wanted to tell me that their child didn’t sleep the night before, and would we go easy on their behaviour in the classroom and playground.
Other’s felt that a packed lunch of sandwiches and fruit wasn’t quite the standard that their child required and presented a hot meal each day.
Then again, it could be that their child had fallen out of a friendship group and could we please ensure that their child was monitored for signs of distress or anxiety. However, considering that there were literally hundreds of children in the school, this seemed very unlikely to achieve.
I soon realised a pattern to these parent’s actions and it made me very sad. They were fearful. Very, very scared of releasing their children and letting them go.
It became apparent that ‘helicopter parenting’ isn’t very good for kids in the long run, and even worse for the parent.
I believe, there comes a time to let go and allow their individual natures to shine.
Quite apart from the hovering shadow of a parent.
Kids need to fail and consequently learn how to deal with the feeling and emotion, because life is full of ups and downs, and yes, failure is one of them.
Please don’t misunderstand my heart, these parents were wonderfully warm and kind people, who truly wanted the best for their children, as we all do.
It’s just their best, didn’t necessarily mean constantly monitoring them. Some of the kids were crippled by the stifling nature of their parents micro-management.
A recent study on children who were recipients of ‘helicopter parenting’ at school and in their early life, through Brigham Young University, yielded concerning results. Due to the initial study showing such poor results in children’s attitude and behaviour, subsequent follow-up research was carried out. The outcome was that they were not as engaged in their senior school studies, and their feelings of self-worth were much lower.
In other words, over-involved parents had a negative effect on these children, who displayed more tendencies towards risk-behaviours, simply because they were never allowed to self regulate any risk for themselves.
Many of these parents were again, warm and incredibly loving, but were unable to let their children go and trust that they had instilled enough positive emotions and key moral aspects, within their hearts to make the right decisions.
These children said they longed to be able to work things out for themselves, but were never given the chance.
This could mean that the child whose mother brought him a hot lunch every day, felt alienated from his peers and in this situation, desired to be the same as his friends.
Being different is a wonderful gift, but not always the right choice.
Overall, stepping in and taking over the child’s own age-appropriate responses, can turn into a negative practice.
As I said, I had twin toddlers at the time of my ‘helicopter epiphany’ and for me, it was a clear indicator in the way that I didn’t want to go forward.
From that time on we implemented this manifesto, which we still use today.
Let The Children Be Free.
Encourage them always.
Let them run outside when it is raining and don’t worry about germs.
Let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water. Splashing is so much fun! As is mud and dirt! Everything can be washed away with good soap!
And when the grass of the meadows is wet with dew, let them run and trample on it with their bare feet. Bare is always best!
Let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade. Nature is a gift to be embraced as often as possible. Even better away from adult eyes.
Let them laugh and be joyful when the sun wakes them in the morning, for a new day holds immeasurable promise and the possibility of adventure should you let them find it.
When I resigned from my school job, we moved to the UK, which began a delightful new story in the lives of our family.
I noticed straight away that the ‘helicopter phenomenon’ spanned across the world, and in my new country, children as young as three were attending nursery and then full-time school.
This fed the controlled environment of micro-managing little one’s and made me all the more sad towards this trending parenting practice.
Yes, these tiny ones were dropped off within an educational space, but their every movement and reaction was documented by their caregivers. Even a small collision with their peers, or a slip-up when they were running, was recorded in triplicate, signed by three caregivers and reported to the parent for initial and waiver.
Was there any end to this?
On top of the professional micro-managing was also the markers that were required for my little ones to reach.
Did they need speech therapy because they were struggling to pronounce their ‘t’s’? Or could they possibly fine-tune their imaginations to enable learning to take place between 9 and 3, instead of incorporating both?
It seemed as though the teachers and experts in the field were applying a different sort of pressure to our children’s young and pliable minds. A sort of micro-managing of their own.
I will share more in Part Two about freeing children to learn at their own pace, whilst being led by their unique interests.
But for now, dear parent, I congratulate you because I know that all you desire for your child or children is for them to be happy, and I truly believe that happiness is the first step in the process towards raising whole and centred children.
And whether you are totally hands-off or have a bit of a propellor whirring away, well done for your heart’s desire in raising these amazing offspring that have been gifted to you.
Because, let’s face it, parenting is not always easy. We enter into a lifetime contract of moulding and shaping our children’s hearts, with zero training for the task ahead. So give yourself a huge pat on the back today, because we are all doing the very best we can for our precious children.