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In the case of the classic Western helicopter parent, it starts with Baby Einstein and reward charts for toilet training, and it never really ends, which is why colleges have to devote so many resources to teaching parents how to leave their kids alone. – Nancy Gibbs

In her book Untangled, Dr. Lisa Damour states, “Helicopter parents are often created via a two-way process: the daughter seeks the parent’s help for managing nearly every problem that comes her way and the parent agrees to provide the help. The more help the parent provides, the less capable the daughter becomes at managing on her own.”

Cell phones make this even harder on parents. Cell phones create a constant connection where students can ask for help with every struggle, big or small. I believe this creates a sense of urgency to jump in and rescue that previous generations of parents did not have to deal with.

Most parents understand the dangers of being a “helicopter parent”. Many have moved away from hovering anxiously, monitoring every move of their children.

Unfortunately, they have moved from helicopters and into Coast Guard parents. They are constantly in “ready mode” prepared to come to the rescue on a moment’s notice is just as bad.

Parents who immediately rush in to rescue their children fail to recognize that jumping in to help everytime difficulty arises is just as harmful as removing the obstacle in advance.

Do the Opposite!

If we want to prepare our children to succeed in the future, we must help them develop their own skills.  If we save them every time it gets difficult, they will never learn how to rescue themselves.

The next time your child calls or texts about an emergency at school, resist the urge to drop everything and head that way. Try one of these strategies instead:

    1. Call them back and tell them you are in the middle of something so it will be at least an hour until you can get there. 
      • Ask what happened. 
      • Ask them why they think it happened (They are only going to tell you one side of the story. Asking why can help you get a better picture of the whole story)
      • Ask them what they think they can do about it. Resist the urge to tell them what to do. 
    2. Do nothing. Don’t call or text back for at least 30 minutes. Many times, if you wait long enough your child has solved the issue or forgotten about it all together by the time you get back to them.

Kids are excellent energy conservationists. If they know someone else will do the work, they will gladly let them.  Instead of rescuing them, help them develop their own skills. 

By staying calm, you reinforce everything is OK and you can support them without saving them.

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