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That sound you hear is the noise of helicopter parents hovering over their children. Helicopter parents have two characteristics: they hover over the kid all the time and they swoop down to rescue the kid if he or she screws up. This can be both deafening and destructive to the kids who are hovered over.
Parents who are over-involved with their children are not doing the kids a favor. Much as children want and need parental attention they are embarrassed when parents overdo it. And those hovered over pick up the message the hovering parent repeatedly sends: you are not good enough or grown up enough or smart enough to do this byyourself.
Hovering can take several forms. Some parents simply cannot bear to let their offspring take responsibility for their own actions. These are the parents that take over homework. They keep reminding the child to do the work and checking it to make sure it’s up to standards–the parent’s standard that is. These parents make excuses to the teacher for any shortcomings of the child.
Parents hover about things at home too. They remind children, who are old enough to assume responsibility for a chore, to do it. They make sure the chore is done properly. They are so confident of the “right” way that they inhibit any inkling of their child to find a better way.
And there are some hovering parents who watch over their child’s interactions with friends and peers to make sure their child is choosing the right ones.
Hovering can have long-range effects. Bill Drayton, founder of Youth Ventures, an organization to support student entrepreneurs notes that many kids are too passive because they have never been encouraged to run anything by themselves.
OK, I convinced you that your hovering is bad. How do you break the addiction?
Here is a simple four-step program.
1) ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM.
Kids need your attention and love but they also need some space. They need to learn how to make good choices and understand that their actions have consequences. Impossible to do if a parent is hovering and rescuing at all times
2) WARN YOUR CHILD!
No fair to go from always rescuing to never doing so. Give your child a heads-up at a family meeting. “You are old enough to do your own homework. From now on, if you don’t bring it home or do it to the best of your ability there will be consequences. You will have to suffer those consequences.”
3) Borrow the ONE-DAY-AT-A-TIME concept from the 12-step programs.
It’s hard to change behavior. You need to be motivated to change and put energy into the project. Plan a substitute activity for when you used to check up on the kid’s homework.
4) Keep a CHART of your performance so you can give yourself a gold star for every day when you were an encouraging rather that a hovering parent. You know the drill. After a week of gold stars you can give yourself a small reward.
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