Landing the Helicopter

We can hurt our kids when we over-indulge them and not just with toys and treats. We can over-indulge them with excess praise and coddling. Often we think we are helping them by providing instant comfort, but it’s good to take a step back and consider what they really need. There is a fine line between support and enabling.

In this day and age, I hear more and more about parents calling in teachers and even bosses about poor performance evaluations for their adult children, or calling in sick for their kids at professional jobs. When we step in too quickly and provide the answers for them we take away their opportunities to learn and grow. When we let them struggle, we give them ownership of the experience and the lessons learned from it.

We can find these moments for learning at every stage of our children’s development. Consider where you may be overstepping and try stepping back. For example, a parent came to me upset by how complicated the morning schedule was. She explained that originally her daughter had a difficult time with school drop off. Seeing her daughter uncomfortable was so hard on the mom that she changed her entire schedule to walk her daughter in every day and spend time helping her get acclimated. I appreciate the mother wanting to support her daughter and applaud her love and affection. But parents can offer the support and comfort they need on the sidelines and let them fend for themselves on the field. What the mother didn’t realize was that early on, if she had helped her daughter with saying goodbye and forced her daughter to experience small amounts of discomfort, she would have taught her daughter how to transition in an age-appropriate way. By being there, she also took some crucial social time away from her daughter - the time before school when kids can play and adjust to the new day. The good news - it’s not too late.

Find the moments where you can let go. It can push you and your kids out of your comfort zone, but think of it as pushing your kids into a new adventure.