Why Is Helicopter Parenting Bad?

I’ve written a few posts now on helicopter parenting and how I have been trying to avoid being one. You can read them here:

Helicopter Mom Part 1

Helicopter Mom Part 2

But maybe we need to clarify the why behind these helicopter mom posts. Why is this a parenting style I am avoiding and trying to lean more toward independent kids? 

A helicopter parent is someone who stands over their children making every decision for them and directing their lives. A lot of the motive behind a helicopter parent is to prevent their children from experiencing failure or getting hurt. However, doing so can actually do the opposite. 

The side effects of being parented by a helicopter parent are depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, high stress, fear of failure, low self-confidence, and more. By never letting your child fail, you are sending the message that failure is not okay, therefore, bringing on all of the depression, stress, and anxiety that comes with the inevitable failure in life. This only grows more and more into adulthood. 

To see more about the side effects of a helicopter parent, check out this video. 

What does a helicopter parent look like in each stage of life? 

As a toddler, it’s a parent standing right behind your child as they climb a ladder, even putting their hands and feet in the exact places they need to go to find success. 

As a child, it looks like a parent changing their child’s teacher because they don’t seem to learn well with their current teacher. 

As a teenager, it’s a parent that chooses which friends their children can spend time with. 

As an adult, it looks like a parent that pushes certain colleges to attend (typically based on the closest location to home) and tells the child what the best area of study for them will be. 

How can you change your parenting style to be less helicopter parent? 

Step back and watch your child climb the ladder. Observe their method of movement and don’t step in unless absolutely necessary. Remember that a short tumble may be exactly what they need to learn the correct method for using the rungs. 

Let your child stay in the classroom of this teacher, and give them ways to learn with the style the teacher is using. Teach them how to work with different personality types, then pull them out of the classroom if matters seem to be worsening and you have tried multiple approaches. 

Have conversations with your child about the value of good friendships and what a lasting effect they can have in life. Teach them to identify good vs. bad friends and let them decipher their friend choices on their own. 

Ask your child what their goals for their adult life look like, see what their ambitions and dreams are. Have conversations about what college looks like and means to them, and help guide them to whichever school seems to be the best fit for them. 

By changing the way we interact and teach our children, it will lead to more independent and efficient leaders of tomorrow. 

Featured Photo: Kayla Wright

Swim Lessons Taught My Kids More Than Swimming

In the spirit of writing blog posts about independent children like I have been recently (you can read more of the posts here), I wanted to talk about one more way I’ve worked hard to give my kids independence and let them explore the world freely. 

This time, it was with swim lessons. I placed my children in ISR (infant swim rescue) lessons at the ages of 10 months for my son and 2.5 years old for my daughter. They were both able to self-rescue and swim by themselves in the water after a few weeks of lessons. Here are some of the educational benefits I’ve found from placing them in these lessons, beyond just swimming and floating.

They learned they can do hard things. It’s hard to learn something so scary and different, especially in an environment like a swimming pool where you can feel so vulnerable. But once they mastered it and felt more confident in the water, they both realized that they worked hard to accomplish something really hard, and that’s absolutely worth noting. I saw them be less fearful and more willing to try hard things later.

They gained confidence in themselves. Because they learned something hard, they grew in confidence. Not only in the pool, but in other activities and learning environments. 

They learned to problem solve. By practicing problem-solving in the water, I watched them apply it at the park on ladders and slides, at home in their play, and everywhere else they needed problem-solving skills. 

They gained respect for water. They didn’t just learn how to swim and go run into any body of water they saw. They learned that water can be dangerous and fun, all at the same time. They learned to respect the nature of water and the consequences that can come with playing in it. 

Giving my children the tools to be independent in the water without floaties or other swimming devices gave them more than just the ability to float on their back, it gave them multiple life lessons they will carry with them. It gave them another tool to grow into independent human beings, who are free to explore the world around them. 

Parenting And Teaching Strong- Willed And Independent Kids

Strong-willed children. Independent children. You know them, raise them, teach them, and love them. But man, it can be so hard. So hard. I know this because I have a strong-willed child myself. I’ve been brainstorming my favorite tried and true ways to help foster this independence in children, whether they are the strong-willed type or not. It will mostly be in a bullet point list so that this doesn’t turn into a lengthy post.  

  1. Don’t be a helicopter mom.
    • Read more about my experience being a helicopter mom with both of my kids.
  2. Give kid access where possible. Can you imagine living in a house where everything is out of reach and inaccessible? Because that’s how your kids can feel. It is freeing for them to have everyday things on their level to have access to. 
    • Access to their dishes 
    • Access to electronics, with boundaries. 
    • Helping make meals and snacks
    • Access to snacks/ food- again with boundaries. 
    • Books and toys at their level. 
  3. Think “what can I not do” 
    • Can your child wipe down their high chair after a meal? 
    • Sweep the floor with a dustpan and small brush? 
    • Put items away? 
    • Tip: Give them specific tasks, not big tasks. 
      • Example: “Can you put this pair of shoes in your closet?” instead of “Please clean up the front room.” Younger kids can get so overwhelmed by these bigger tasks! Break them down. It takes a lot more conversation and working with them, but doing this can eventually lead to, “Can you please clean up the front room?” 
  4. Basic daily tasks they can do by themselves. 
    • Getting dressed (clothes at their level)
    • Brushing teeth 
    • Using the bathroom
    • Opening snacks and drinks 
    • Preparing meals 
    • Getting buckled in the car (with supervision) 
    • Helping grab items off the shelves in grocery stores. 
    • Opening doors for self and others. 
  5. Remember that struggles are okay. It’s okay if your child doesn’t get it right the first time or becomes frustrated when they can’t do a task. In the words of Daniel Tiger, “Keep trying, you’ll get better!” Always keep in mind that they are only (this many) years old. For example, when my daughter can’t get her shoes on by herself, I remind myself, “It’s okay, she’s only 3 years old.” to keep it in perspective that I shouldn’t be expecting her to act older than she is. 
  6. Remember that messes are okay. Learning and growing are messy and hard! Everything can and will be cleaned up. And I firmly believe that kids learn the responsibility of being clean when they are given the chance to get messy and clean up. It’s important that they are expected to clean up too! Even if it’s just a small portion of the mess. 
  7. Remember that getting hurt is okay if it’s not serious. A short tumble off the bottom step of a ladder, a little slip in the grass, and other small ways kids get hurt are how they learn to move their bodies without getting hurt someday. 
  8. Remember that you are the parent/ teacher and you have the right to any boundaries you want to set. Constantly be evaluating your boundaries to see if you need to give more or less freedom. Do what is comfortable for you! 
    • Ex: It’s okay for you to have this cupboard of dishes. But it’s not okay for you to pull out all of these dishes and spread them all over the kitchen. 
    • Ex: It’s okay for you to play on your tablet or watch TV, but I will set a timer for one hour and that’s all the screen time you can get for the day. 
    • Ex: It’s okay for you to play in the backyard by yourself, but I will close the gates so it is locked in and leave the window open so I can hear you if you need me. 
    • Ex: You can buckle yourself into the car by yourself, but I will check it when you’re done to make sure you are safe. 
    • Ex: You can ride your bike on the sidewalk by yourself, but you cannot go past that tree down the road, it is too far. 
  1. The power of choice is your BEST FRIEND when it comes to an independent-minded child. You choose what they can have, but the ultimate choice is in their hands. 
    • Ex: Do you want a PB&J for lunch or a ham sandwich? 
    • Ex: Do you want to go down the slide first, or swing first? 
    • Ex: You can wear a yellow shirt or a green shirt today, which shirt do you want? 
    • Ex: We need to go to Walmart and Costco today, which one should we go to first? 
    • Ex: Do you want to walk to the car, or do you want me to carry you? 
  2. Mantras you can teach your child. Read more about our experience using them.
    • “I can do it if I try!”
    • “I can do it if I practice!”
  3. Mantra for yourself. 
    • “Go for good enough” – How your child performs doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be good enough. 
  4. Conversations/ questions to have with your strong-willed child about to attempt something or just have attempted something. These conversations can lead to good, independent decision making. 
    • “Why do you think that happened?”
    • “Show me how you like to do it!”
    • “What would happen if you did it this way?”
    • “What are all of our options?”  

What else would you add to this list? Bookmark it to save for later! This much information can be overwhelming to remember all at once, so keep this post tucked away and pull it out when you find yourself frustrated with your strong-willed child. 

Early Childhood Resources All In One Place!

Hi friends! A lot of my posts lately have been focused on early childhood and how we can foster this education as parents and teachers. It’s been my focus simply because it’s my daily life right now. I spend the majority of my day fostering the learning of a one-year-old and a three-year-old, so naturally, it’s where my thoughts have been centered.

Because I have been throwing this content at you so much, I felt like it needed a place where it’s all corralled for you for easier searching. Lo and behold! My early childhood page!

You can find the link to this new page here!

Featured on the page are sensory bin lists, tips, and recipes. Some thoughts on raising independent kids. Really great articles on PLAY. And bonus material on emotions in kids and using Myers- Briggs and Enneagram to understand your child better.

This list and page will be ever growing as I continue to create new content in this scope of ideas, so check back later for more articles. You can find this new page on our top banner under “blog”.

The Importance Of Disagreeing In Front Of Children

I want to preface this post with the statement that when I planned to write about the subject that has been on my mind a lot recently, I absolutely did not mean for it to be written and published the week of our 2020 presidential election. However, it is incredibly fitting and I am glad it worked out this way. 

Is disagreeing good for kids? Studies show, YES, it is! Teaching kids to disagree, debate, and solve conflicts in a decent manner can be incredibly helpful to them for the rest of their lives. This video shows the idea perfectly. 

“Most great ideas are born out of disagreement.”

“Frame conflict as debate and to voice those disagreements in a thoughtful way.”

We as parents, educators, and influencers of children, in general, have a duty to show our younger generation the graceful art of debating and solution finding in a civilized manner. And right now is the best time to do that.

Featured Image: Pexels.com

Independent Chores At Two Years Old- How We Do It

I recently created a chore chart for my two-year-old. I knew I should set one up for her around the time that she became more and more interested in housework and started seeing the benefit of helping. When coming up with the exact chore chart I wanted in my mind, I went through a lot of ideas before eventually lining out exactly what I wanted. Here were my stipulations. 

It needed to be fairly independent for her, with very little help from me. Both the jobs I was asking her to do and utilizing the chart itself.

It needed to be visual with pictures for her but also labeled with words. You can read more about the labels and the reason why here. 

It needed purpose, she needed to be doing real chores to help around the house, not just busywork. 

It needed to include her day-to-day tasks like getting dressed so that she could easily feel accomplishment from the get go, and see a better sense of the time structure.

It needed to be age-appropriate. 

And thus, our chore chart was born. I picked a central spot in our house so she could see it often and ran with my idea. I made little magnets for each chore, then separated out the day, morning routine, chores for the middle of the day, and night. I wanted her to see a better sequence of time, that’s why it was laid out this way. And then I separated it into to-do and done so she could visualize what she needs to do and what she has done. 

The whole chore chart- on the metal door in our kitchen
Broken down into sections of the day and what she still needs to do.
A close up of her chores. Labeled with words and pictures.

One of my favorite parts of this chore chart was how simple and cheap it was! I made the chore pictures and labels on my computer and printed it off on card stock at home, then glued on the magnets I picked up from Walmart for about $4. Not bad! Just the card stock was working great for a time, but we also have a baby brother to account for here, so eventually, I printed out a new sheet of chores, and changed a few after our first trial run, then brought it to our public library to be laminated. The total lamination cost was 90 cents! I rubbed the backs of cards with a little sandpaper so the magnets could be glued, and voila! A $4.90 customizable chore chart!

The main goal I’ve tried to remember with her is that our lives do not need to revolve around these magnets. I try really hard to put my Type A personality aside and remember that it’s not the end of the world if she did something like getting dressed, but didn’t move the magnet. And our end wasn’t to get everything done every single day but to use it how and where we can. 

It took a lot of modeling, a lot of guidance, and a lot of work. But months later we’ve gotten to the point where she is in charge of her chore chart and can be independent in carrying it out. 

Have you done something similar in your homes or classrooms? I’d love for you to share with me! 

Taking Down The Baby-Proofing: Some Thoughts On Self-Reg

Like many households with toddlers and babies, we have outlet covers placed in every reachable outlet throughout the house. For the first two years of my daughter’s life, they stayed put and did their job, keeping her safe from electrocution. 

But alas, at some point, her curiosity and fine motor skills moved beyond the simple plastic and left us with outlet covers being pulled out left and right. 

At first, we tried telling her no. 

Then we tried redirecting her every time.

When neither worked, we attempted to show her how to put them BACK in the socket in hopes that once pulled out, she would put it back in. However, instead of putting the cover back in the socket, she started sticking anything else that might fit. I’m sure a lot of parents are familiar with the objects- Pencils, forks, fingers, straws, anything long and skinny. 

Finally, I was at a loss, what was I going to do to keep my daughter from getting electrocuted? This was becoming too dangerous. 

One night it dawned on me. She was two and a half at this point and I thought to myself, it’s time to stop trying to block her from the danger and start teaching her how to properly use them as a tool, making the danger lessen drastically. 

We had a quick conversation about outlets and power, at a two-year-old level of course, and what we use outlets for. I pulled out her tablet and charger and showed her how to properly plug in one side of the cord to the outlet and the other into the tablet. She practiced over and over taking it in and out of the outlet and watching the screen turn on when it would start charging. We also talked about what can and cannot be placed in outlets. Tablet chargers- good! Forks- No way. She was overjoyed with this new skill she had just obtained. 

At some point, we had to take away the baby-proofing and hand-holding to let our kids just experience the world for what it is. This can be true for crossing the road or walking to the neighbor’s house. Maybe taking off training wheels or taking off floaties in the pool as Mary talked about in a past post. 

How do we help students learn self-regulation in our schools that can be full of figurative outlet covers? What would happen if we let elementary students choose their own tables in a lunchroom instead of assigning each grade and class a specific spot? At first- chaos. But over time, think of the self-regulation this could promote in students with the proper scaffolding. Just like how I had to sit down and show my daughter step by step how to plug in her tablet and effectively use an outlet, the same would be done with the students. 

The benefit became apparent for me almost right away after removing every last outlet cover from our home. When the vacuum cord wouldn’t quite reach the far corner of the living room, my daughter came running to unplug it from the current outlet and move it to a closer one. Less work for me! When her tablet dies, she is responsible for plugging it back in. She is excited at any chance she has to use the outlets, and I don’t have to worry about forks and straws in them anymore! 

How do we find the balance of a well run, efficient school while also putting responsibility into the hands of students to behave and act in a respectful, responsible manner? And how do we get to the point where the two can become one? A well-run school that promotes student decision making and taking off the “outlet covers”? Tell me your thoughts.

Featured Image: pexels.com