Friday, December 3, 2010

Do Your Kids Use You As Their Palm Pilot?


A mom was running late as she drove her two sons to school. “Can we pleeeease go back?” her six-year-old pleaded. “I forgot my stamps for show-and-tell.”

Any other day, this mom would have made a quick U-turn to retrieve the forgotten item. She’d done just that more than a few times. But something clicked in her head: “If I’m always rescuing my kids, they’ll just take it for granted that I’ll do it for the rest of their lives.”

So this time her response was different. “I know you’re upset,” she said, “but we’re not going back. I’m sure we can figure out something else for you to share. Let’s brainstorm some ideas.”

Her son was not thrilled, but by the time they got to school, he did have a plan—and this mother experienced an “aha” moment that would help her children learn to be more resourceful and less dependent on her.

What’s Your Current Parenting Style?

How would you have responded? Thinking about how you usually act when your child seems frustrated, seeks help, fails or isn’t doing a task up to your standards. Are you more likely to be a

Protector: “If you need anything, I’ll be sitting right here during the party.”

Rescuer: “I’ll figure it out for you, honey.”

Over-involved: “I’m calling that kid’s parent and telling her to invite you.”

Enabler: “You’re tired, sweetie. Go to sleep and I’ll finish this for you.”

Perfectionist: “I’m remaking your bed; you didn’t tuck the corners in just right.”

Or something else? The truth is, if you want to raise an independent kid who can someday thrive (and survive) without you–and oh how I hope you do!–you need to show some restraint in the “lend-a-hand” department. Data shows that the 21st century parenting style is a lot of protecting, rescuing, over-involving, micro-managing, and enabling and it’s not doing our kids any favors.

If you feel just a tad bit guilty, then make a list of reasons why you should break these habits. Or write yourself a letter and describe how it hinders your child’s independence. Reading it everyday will help keep you motivated. Then take a pledge to stop your habit, and go for it! Breaking old habits is hard work, but it’s doable. Here are tips to help you move from “Doer” to “Guider.” (Believe me, your child will thank you someday!)

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