Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Former Standford Dean Saw the Pitfalls of Helicopter Parenting

Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former Stanford Dean, has seen students enter the prestigious school for many years. In a Washington Post article, she reported an increased trend of students who were well prepared academically, but ill prepared to take care of themselves. She saw parents who were so concerned with protecting their children from disappointment and failure that they robbed them of developing the skills necessary for adulthood. The focus was on building their academic accolades, not resilience. In the article, Lythcott-Haims argues, "such 'overhelping' might assist children in developing impressive résumés for college admission, but it also robs them of the chance to learn who they are, what they love and how to navigate the world."

Parents feel a lot of pressure to provide their children with every advantage to get into a "good" college. What may have begun as, "I just want my child to be happy," "I want them to develop their own interests," or "Everyone has different strengths," turns into a focus on GPA, number of advanced classes, and whether or not their educational experience looks good on paper. In doing so, parents often fall into the trap of rescuing their kids from making and learning from mistakes, preventing them from achieving their accomplishments on their own, and figuring out what path is right for them.

Parent Tips
1.  Confidence Comes with Experience
Children and teens need to learn how to solve problems through experience. They need to be supported in coming up with the solutions themselves and seeing if they work. The best way to build confidence is for kids to experience making mistakes and knowing they have the skills to fix future mistakes.

2.  Focus on the Process Over the Product
Praise the "process" and effort your child puts toward a task, rather than the outcome, even if the outcome wasn't what he or she expected. Talk about how your child tried to achieve a goal, whether or not it worked.

3.  Strong Grades, Not Good Grades
Talk about whether or not a test score or grade is strong for your particular child in that particular subject. An A may be a strong grade for one child, but a B may be a strong grade for another child who isn't as skilled in that subject area.

4.  Don't Associate Grades with Intelligence
Grades measure academic skill, not intelligence. Some students are more academically gifted than others. However, that does not mean they are more intelligent.

For the complete Washington Post article, follow this link.


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