Saturday, May 4, 2013

Are You a Helicopter Parent?

Increasing numbers of young adults are failing to leave the nest. It's not inability to find employment or housing keeping them home, it's that they have not developed the skills they need for independence.

A recent study of college students by researchers at Brigham Young University revealed that these adults have a deep concern for their children. Unfortunately the constant inappropriate intrusions made by the parents harm the youngsters psychologically.

It begins when the children are very young. Don't interfere in the squabbles of elementary school children unless someone could get hurt. They need to learn to get along with others, and that includes social problem solving.

How can you determine if you're a helicopter parent? The researchers have these criteria:

  • Do you think you have to protect your child from all pain and suffering?
    • Remember that suffering can be a source of growth. 
  • Learn the difference between helping and coddling.
    • When you let them try on their own, then provide a safety net, that's help. Dictating actions and stepping in to manage problems is coddling.
  • Only call or text your child once a day or less on a regular basis. 
    • Never call during school hours unless there is an emergency, and discipline your child for using their phone to contact you during class time. 
  • Don't intervene in conflicts for college-age children by contacting roommates, friends. or school officials. They need to learn to deal with challenges on their own at this point. 
    • Don't swoop in and try to solve their problems. Let them manage, and take their lumps if they've made a mistake. It's part of learning to be an adult. 
  • Develop your own interests so you have other things to think about. If you have no outside life, you're a helicopter parent. Take a class, join club, or learn a sport.

How do you teach independence to your children?