It is my humble opinion that helicopter parents have their hearts in the right place but need to drastically rethink their parenting strategy. Whether you as a child were parented this way, maybe it is a direct response to your divorce or perhaps it is a cultural norm, you may have been exposed to this blind spot and you want to correct it. Here are some steps that may help you and your child reset the parent-child paradigm.
Training them to leave the nest.
This may be an odd one to think of if you’re staring at your toddler, but this will help you shift your parenting paradigm, ‘training your children so that they can leave.’ Instead of doing it all for them and rescuing them at the first sign of trouble, let’s be parents who train our kids to leave. You are their Life Coach, guide them well. When they’re no longer under our roof, we want them to make smart choices.
Let them fail.
This may feel very uncomfortable for you but it is an important life experience for them, you will not always be there to catch them when they fall. Unfortunately, as we adults know, failure is a part of life and guiding our children through failure and giving them a healthy attitude about it is essential to raising resilient adults. Helping them to learn from failure is one of the most important things you can do. Fail, learn, adjust, try again.
Teach them to be Communicators.
We’re surrounded by dozens of opportunities to connect and communicate online and electronically but it is our duty to teach our children the art of face-to-face communication. We’re talking about how to talk to teachers, coaches, and the lunch lady. They need to learn how to look others in the eye, ask questions, initiate and debate with others with intelligence and respect.
Teach them Basic Life Skills
As a co-parent, you are ultimately teaching them to take care of themselves. To do this you need to make sure you teach them the basics of life. For me, as a father of three boys that includes teaching them how to cook healthy delicious meals (*perhaps even a few family dishes), how to shake someone’s hand, how to change a tire and how to honor and respect women.
Teach them to be responsible.
This means teaching them to be responsible for their own actions and teaching them to take care of their belongings and the things around them. A great place to start is by giving them chores, the earlier the better. Give them an alarm clock, because you are not their alarm clock. Yes, you are giving them more freedom, more wiggle room, more opportunities for failure but also more opportunities for vital learning. These incremental lessons hopefully prepare them for their place in society, job, and balanced life.
As they get older, these lessons include vital problem-solving. How do you respond when ‘friends’ want you to drink or do drugs? While none of these pointers may be brand new discoveries for most, the key is to incrementally separate yourself ~to raise the elevation of the helicopter, so your child is a self-sufficient confident adult able to problem solve all the curve balls life has to offer.