Not content on just hovering and micromanaging, these Lawnmower parents choose to bulldoze a path through all the obstacles that stand in the way of their child’s success and happiness. Often bombarding teachers with phone calls and emails hoping to help smooth the way for their offspring at school or even in university, these parents know how to perfect every crease in the lives of their kids.
These actions, though well intentioned, prevent kids from learning from their mistakes. The act of cushioning the bumps and grinds in life hinder personal development in children and make them less resilient and independent. Here we look at some of the key issues that arise and how you should best approach them
Let Them Fight Their Own Battles
The instinct of a parent is always to take the side of their child, whether or not they are right or wrong. However, having disputes are common in life and becoming involved in issues with friends or launching and attack on the school for the alleged unfair treatment of your child could be doing more of a disservice to your child.
“As a parent, it’s a huge temptation to give in to the ‘I know what’s best for you’ mindset. One of the most important values we need to impart to our children is the value of independence, and the only way to nurture this is to actually allow children to experience independence.” Says Parenting Coach Anita Shankar.
Independence begets a lot of other qualities such as resilience, and the absence of it hinders your child from learning how to get out of uncomfortable situations and thus developing necessary negotiation skills that will help them later in life. Responding to conflict should be something a parent watches from a far, making sure it doesn’t get out of hand, but never something they should control entirely.
Help with Homework, But Make Sure It’s All Their Own Work
Getting good grades are important to every parent, surely. There are however some means that do not justify the ends. Sometimes, polishing or correcting your child’s work may seem harmless at the start, but when the lines blur and you start to do the whole thing for them, your parenting methods need a reevaluation.
Homework is an experience that is targeted to make your child learn and if you take this away from them, they wouldn’t have had learnt anything valuable from it. The message you send your child should be one that encourages the learning process. By completing their homework for them, you are letting them know that they are not good enough to do it themselves which in turn will cause more doubt for everything they embark upon independently later in life.
Be Realistic With Your Praise
Parents tend to coo over everything their children do and although that isn’t wrong in the slightest, you should always be sure to manage the expectations of your children realistically. Every child is different and although you may think that it helps boost their confidence for them to move on to achieve greater things, to children with low self-esteem, it might cause an opposite effect.
Scientists in the US recently published a paper stating that inflated praise decreases challenge-seeking in these children. The authors say it makes children believe they are expected to meet the high standard they have set for themselves and some become fearful of new challenges in case they don’t do as well next time.
Rather than praise them for their achievements, experts recommend praising children for their determination and persistence. This sows seeds of confidence and encourages them to take on new tasks without worrying about making mistakes.
Let Your Child Feel Disappointed Sometimes
Disappointment is faced by everyone and at every phase of life. Learning how to deal with disappointment is what is most valuable to your children’s future development so crying foul whenever your child feels let down is pointless. Instead, get your child to reflect on the situation and understand why the situation turned out that way.
As a parent, if you feel yourself torn as to whether or not to run and soothe these emotional wounds, Sally-Anne McCormack, a clinical psychologist recommends that “you should remind yourself of your long-term parenting goals. If your aim is to be a supportive parent and raise independent, responsible adults, then you won’t let emotion get the better of you even when you feel your child being treated unfairly.”
Anita Shankar again reiterates that it is important for parents to “allow your children to make their own decisions and choices and experience life on their own terms, within acceptable boundaries of course.” So in letting them experience life on their own terms, you should allow your child to accept failure and disappointment and monitor how they deal with such emotions.
Resist the Urge to Deliver That Forgotten Sports Bag, Library Book or Assignment
Coming to the rescue when your child calls crying about forgetting to bring something they absolutely needed that day is tempting because all parents hate disappointing their children. However, what might keep them out of trouble today won’t do them any favours in the long run.
Letting your children experience failure or consequence is difficult for any parent but children learn by making mistakes and facing consequences is part of that. As long as the consequences are not likely to be devastating or harmful, it is best to let them find their own solution. “Children who are forever being rescued by their mum or dad may find themselves clueless about how to manage at university of work.” McCormack says and adds that “Making mistakes and facing up to the consequences will help them be resourceful enough to cope with adult life.
Leave Sports Management to The Experts
Sports offers a great deal of opportunity to learn valuable life lessons, including being committed and reliable, teamwork, sportsmanship (how to win or lose graciously) and even how to cope with rejection, loss and disappointment. At a young age, your child will benefit from learning these lessons and should be exposed to more sports. However, it is important to note that at such a junior level, these lessons are more important than winning.
Therefore, even if your child has superior sporting skills, don’t hound the coaches and expect special treatment for every time he doesn’t make your child the star. Parents should always lead by example, and teaching children elitism at an early age can be dangerous in the future. It is unrealistic to always expect your child to be the star of every game so as a parent, you should extend the courtesy of allowing other children the same opportunity as your child and in the process teach your child patience, courtesy and compassion.
Text: Bauer/ Good Health/ Additional Reporting: Shenielle Aloysis