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“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” – Ann Landers
One of the most difficult things about parenting is learning how to take a “back seat.” All too often, our natural inclination is to swoop in and save our children from what they fear, from making mistakes, and from experiencing disappointment. No one will love your child quite like you do, and your actions will reflect that…sometimes, to a fault.
Don’t get me wrong – positive verbal affirmation and unconditional love are key components in raising a child to become strong, capable, and motivated. However, there is a fine line between “helping” and “hurting” your child. All people – regardless of their age – are wired to learn from their mistakes, and to find strength in the face of obstacles. How we respond to these difficulties is ultimately what defines us. As parents, if we constantly try to “save” our children from what overwhelms them, we are actually doing them a great disservice. We are robbing them of their ability to develop emotional resilience, build their self-confidence, and enhance their character and problem-solving skills. Here are some things you may feel inclined to do for your child, but should NEVER allow yourself to:
1. Schoolwork. It is easy to feel sympathy for your child when you see the tears of frustration running down their face, and the outbursts of anger about how they feel inferior or incapable of completing a task. But, resist that urge to complete your child’s work for them. Get them a glass of water, dry their tears, and redirect them to look at the assignment from a different perspective. Ask if there is another way to approach it that utilizes their strengths and creativity. GUIDE your child to the solution, don’t remove the task altogether. Most importantly, leave the room. If you aren’t physically hovering, your child is more likely to try to solve the problem on their own. If you complete your child’s work for them, they will only learn to become dependent on you for all hardships they may face in life.
2. Talk Negatively About Your Child’s Teachers. Even if you are experiencing a specific issue with your child’s teachers, keep your interactions and conflicts out of your child’s ear-shot as much as possible. Remember, your child spends the entire school day with their educators, and if you speak negatively about them, your child will be less receptive to the learning process altogether. They will most likely develop negative attitudes towards others, and since they lack emotional maturity, they will not be able to separate the behavior from the person. YOU are your child’s most influential role model – and if you discuss their teachers in a negative way, your child’s view of them will change, their school day will become more stressful, and they will feel less responsibility to learn from that person. Remember, teachers are there to help your child learn – and there is always a better solution than involving your child in adult matters.
3. Speak On Their Behalf. Encourage your child to use their own voice and practice independence as much as possible. If you cut them off or answer for them, not only will they feel that their opinion has no value, but they will likely look to you to provide an excuse or solution for them with future obstacles. Don’t give your child the option to stand on the sidelines. Instead, equip them with the confidence to speak up – and learn how to own their words and actions.
4. Prioritize Sports and Extracurricular Activities Over Academics. I realize that this one may be particularly tough for some parents. Perhaps I’m aging myself when I say that I remember a time when sports and extracurricular activities were privileges – only rewarded once schoolwork was completed, and the grades were satisfactory. Many times, I receive calls from parents who are genuinely concerned about their child’s grades – but when they hear that I suggest a two-hour per week minimum of tutoring/extra practice, they are immediately turned off or unwilling to commit because it would interfere with their sports schedule. I tell my clients to think about tutoring and academic performance like a weight-loss challenge. If you want the results, you have to be consistent, and commit to the process on a daily basis. If your child is struggling – focus on their education, and teach them that while sports may be important, their ability to learn is a life-long skill that requires the ultimate commitment.
If you are struggling with wanting your child to succeed and the inclination to do everything for them, consider contacting Triumph Tutoring, Inc. We do so much more than homework support! We offer individualized services for parents – not just students – and equip them with the skills to stand strong in guiding their children, executing effective study habits and daily routines at home, and communicating with their child’s teachers in a constructive way. Our goal is not to only help students overcome academic obstacles – it’s also to help them reach their potential in all areas of their life. Academics are merely one way in which children learn how to build their character and face difficulties. When you are tempted to step in and take over, remind yourself: This is the part where they find out who they are…
Contact me today for more info!