It was ten years ago we first heard the term: “Helicopter Parent.” It was about the same time, we heard the term: “Frustrated Teacher.” According to nationwide polls, parents became the number one frustration of educators, even more than bully-kids or troubled students. After a decade of over-parenting and misdirected parenting, may I take a few days and unpack what’s happened to the young people and what we can do to correct it? I plan to offer a challenge and an idea to lead students each day this week.
Here’s idea number one…
Don’t think PRESCRIPTIVE, think DESCRIPTIVE.
Many kids today have had everything mapped out for them by an adult. Recitals, practices, video games, playground time, lessons, phone games. Even Legos play sets now have diagrams of what to build and how to build it. We’re removing the need for kids to have their own imagination and creativity.
Suggestion: Instead of prescribing what they should do next, try “describing.” Describe an outcome or goal, and let them figure out how to reach it with their own ingenuity. Kids need adults to set meaningful goals but we do too much when we give them each step to take. This is where they can begin to develop some of heir own ambition and creativity. Remember—if a kid creates it, he owns it. Students support what they help create.
As students move through transitions in their life—from elementary to middle school, from middle to high school, from high school to college and even career, we often prevent kids from developing the life skills they’ll need in those junctions. Relationship expert Michelle Givertz, at Cal State Chico has studied hundreds of parent-young adult pairs and found that age-inappropriate over-parenting leads to depression-prone aimless kids (and ultimately adults) with “ diminished self-efficacy,” lacking the ability to put a plan in place to achieve goals.
This is why we plan to release a whole new Habitudes book on January 15th called: Habitudes For the Journey. It contains thirteen images, each representing timeless principles and decisions students must make in times of transition. It will ask questions like:
- Where do you get your energy from—the future or the past?
- What values have you developed that you really own?
- Who do you have in your life that keeps you on the right path?
- When you encounter something or someone new, do you build a wall or a bridge?
This resource is perfect for first-year students, or first year programs at schools, as well as parent-student conversations at Starbucks.