03 Mar Disconnect from Helicopter Parenting
In a perfect world, life would always be fair, but the reality is, it is not. Sure, we can work towards that but when it doesn’t occur, can we adjust? Do we raise our children in a way that they are equipped with the tools they will need to know how to manage an unfair world. Do we help them have realistic expectations in line with the way things really are, rather than how we wish they were?
For example, recent research states that we have done our children a disservice through the “everyone gets a trophy” movement. We are learning that as these kids grow into adults with those unrealistic expectations, it is difficult for them to adjust. In real life, everyone does not get a trophy for showing up. They are confused now.
Research supports that for kids to become well-adjusted adults, we must help our kids understand that sometimes life is not fair, sometimes we don’t get a trophy, and we have to make internal adjustments to manage this rationally. Yes, they may feel some emotional discomfort, no it will no devastate them.
The lessons our kids learn early in life and carry into adulthood are significant. It is far better for our kids to learn these lessons while they are growing up in the loving care of the secure environment we provide for them called home and family. Home and family can support kids through the normal disappointments they will encounter throughout life.
As adults, we know that everyone at work doesn’t get a raise and everyone doesn’t get a promotion , just for showing up. So why would we teach our kids the opposite and set them up for unrealistic expectations later in life, which will cause them great anguish emotionally? Sometimes there are losers. Preparing our kids for this reality is appropriate parenting.
We can help prepare our kids for the real world in many ways. We can choose not to be helicopter parents. We can help them by letting them live their lives, rather than arranging their lives. A bruised ego in a child can provide important life lessons for adulthood. For example, in a tennis match, there will be a winner and a loser. Everyone will not win, and everyone will not earn a trophy. Acceptance of this and proper management of it by the losing party is important. Congratulations are in order. Then work harder for the next match. This builds self-esteem as opposed to a fake trophy for nothing.
Giving a child a trophy they did not earn, but instead just for showing up confuses them, and actually does the opposite of what it is intended to accomplish. The child knows they did not earn the trophy and the story they tell themselves is , they must not believe in me to give me a trophy rather than having me earn it , so I must not be good. The kids believe those giving unearned trophies to them think they are incapable, and this harms their self-esteem and they tend to live up to incapable.
Kids WANT to be responsible and they want to work hard and earn things, rather than be given unearned trophies. Are the expectations you have for your child such that they live up to them or down to them? How is your parenting contributing to their self-esteem?
Losing and having to adjust can be a great teaching opportunity, helping our kids learn that some days we win , some days we don’t, and life keeps rolling along. We can use a loss to remind us to work harder and make positive and needed adjustments. A failure is not a loss, it’s an opportunity.