Your daughter comes home in tears after an argument with a friend. What do you do? If you answered, “Call the friend’s mom to work out the problem,” you need to take a step back.
Try this instead: Be a support system, but let them talk it out. Teach them how to calm their emotions, then help them explore ways they and their friend can work it out on their own.
You Do Their Schoolwork
Put on your preschooler’s shoes. Solve a hard math equation for your teen … there are plenty of ways to swoop in to save your kids from feeling frustrated. But healthy levels of stress can actually boost their problem-solving skills.
Try this instead: Let your kids figure things out on their own. Praise their efforts when they stick with hard situations.
You Coach Their Coaches
If you shout advice from the stands during your kids’ games or corner the coach to talk after every practice, it might be time to sideline yourself. Sports can teach your child how to deal with conflict, work toward a goal, be a leader, and cope with defeat. But it has to be their team, not yours.
Try this instead: If they ask for your help or you can see they have a problem, teach them how to talk to the coach themselves.
You Keep Your Kids on a Short Leash
You stick around for drop-off birthday parties. You drive your teen to friends’ houses even when they’re only a short walk away. You send daily check-in texts (plural) to your college student. Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to cut the apron strings and let your kids build some self-confidence.
Try this instead: Create chances for them to be independent: Let them play in the yard while you stay inside or walk the dog solo.
You're a Maid in Your Own House
Do you still make your first grader’s bed, clean your teen’s room, or do your college student’s laundry? It’s time to lighten your load. Make your kid pitch in around the house and you’ll teach them responsibility for a lifetime.
Try this instead: Start with small tasks and build from there. Be clear about what you expect them to do, and praise a job well done.
You Play It Too Safe
“Get down from up there!” “Don’t ride so fast!” “Hold my hand down the slide!” Would you bubble wrap your kids if you could? Turns out you can protect them too much. When you don’t let them take physical or mental risks, you can stunt their development.
Try this instead: Remember the goal is to keep them as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. Let them climb a tree, or fall and scrape their knee. It’s good for their growth as a person.
You Can't Let Them Fail
Think of the last time you made a mistake. Chances are, you learned from it. Your kids need to do the same. Trial and error teaches them how to make their way in the world. If you take over a project or task to “do it right,” they won’t learn how to tackle problems in the future.
Try this instead: Let them make mistakes every once in a while. When they fail, encourage them to try again.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
American Academy of Pediatrics: “Everybody Gets Mad: Helping Your Child Cope with Conflict,” “For Teens: A Personal Guide for Managing Stress,” “Chores and responsibility.”
American Psychological Association: “Using Praise to Enhance Student Resilience and Learning Outcomes.”
Michigan State University Extension: “What do youth sports teach our children, really?”
University of North Texas Center for Sports Psychology: “A Guide to Being a Positive Youth Sport Parent.”
Kids Health: “Raising Confident Kids.”
Brussoni, M. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2012.
Child Mind Institute: “What’s Wrong with Helicopter Parenting?”