Avoid Helicopter Parenting

What do we mean when we say we want to raise “successful” children? Success is hard to measure and may mean different things to everyone. When checking off the achievement box is what defines success, it’s too easy to forget that it’s the qualities in our children that might lead to those accomplishments that matter — not the goals themselves. While we want to protect our children from harm, what we too often end up doing is protecting them from learning. It teaches them, instead, that their parents believe they are incapable of achieving anything worthwhile on their own.

Raising a successful adult means letting a child be a child, with all the mistakes and consequences and learning that come with childhood. If we cover up our children’s best work with ours, they learn that their best isn’t good enough. If we cover up their weak efforts with our willingness to do more, then they’ll never learn that more is worth doing. If we prop up their procrastination with our ability to nag, they’ll never learn to discipline themselves.

We live in an increasingly competitive world. Those days when a just a 4.0 GPA and a decent SAT score can you get you into an Ivy League, nowadays college graduates who excelled in college may struggle to get jobs, and may need to save for several years just to be able to afford an apartment. Instead of micromanaging your child, here are some great tips on how you can be an encouraging and supportive parent during this time of the year of application decisions:

Promote independence in all aspects of your child’s life.
Your child’s success in college starts in high school. The realities of independent living and decision-making come on very quickly, and often end badly if the student hasn’t had any real practice learning to deal with the consequences of poor planning or mistakes. These skills are not intuitive. Students need guidance in life skills like communications with adults (even if it’s just text), laundry, managing money and their social life. A few stumbles now will give them tools for dealing with future struggles on their own.

If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of counselors who make it their business to understand the world of higher education and the admissions process.

Help your child to evaluate his/her strengths and weaknesses.
Most students begin the college search with features such as size, location, sports teams and weather and very little thought to academics and what will fit their needs as a student! The process of self-assessment is an important one, and many students do not know where to begin. Your thoughtful insight to their preferences, strengths and weaknesses can help them focus on what is most important to their college experience.

Be honest and listen.
Share your feelings and frustrations with the college process. Be sure to discuss finances openly and express your expectations of your child for his or her contributions. If you can’t support certain choices, be clear about this early in the process. Your honesty will help to keep the lines of communication open. Also, don’t forget to listen to your child’s own feelings and reactions and to watch for what is being unsaid.

Be open to options.
Try to set aside your own experiences and biases toward certain institutions and keep an open mind. No one college or post-graduate option is “right,” there are many choices that can result in a good match for your child. Help your child to recognize that seeking perfection will only result in disappointment. It is much more productive to have a list of 10 schools, at different levels of admission probability, where your child will be happy, than to hold out for one or two dream schools.

Respect your child’s individuality and privacy.
You’ve known it all along, your child is not you, and it will show during this process. Be aware of your child’s desire for privacy. Celebrate their accomplishments modestly and realize that they may not want their selection process, scores, grades or college choices to be open discussion.

Lastly..the choice needs to remain with your child, within the parameters that you agree on as a family. Allowing them as much ownership as they can handle will give them the satisfaction that they really had a choice. You will undoubtedly experience many mixed emotions during this pivotal point in your child’s life, it is how you react to your emotions that will make the difference in the long-term health of the relationship with your college student.

credit: College Options; Launching Your Child’s College Search Process

Motivational Ways in Speaking

For this week’s post, I wanted to introduce some motivational techniques I’ve used in speaking with my students. I’ve found that using this way to speak with students who are not motivated, angry often, and living without a strong role model in their life (i.e. divorced/separated parents, parents working late, etc) seem to slowly open up in our sessions and talk about their issues at school and home. If you’re a parent reading this and you’ve been having trouble communicating with your child, try using these steps below. The goal is for him or her to realize their issues independently and realize they need to take steps to change into who they want to become and what they want for their life. This technique is something I’ve practiced during grad school and in my current job as a counselor. I hope you find them useful.

  1. Affirmation: This step is giving a statement in response to what the student tells you. The goal is to recognize the student’s strengths and efforts to change. They help to increase a student’s confidence in their ability to change.
    “You showed a lot of (insert person’s trait, strength, determination) by doing that.”
  2. Open-Ended Question: This allows the student to tell their story and to do most of the talking. This gives the counselor an opportunity to respond with reflections or summary statements that express empathy. Too many back-to-back close ended questions can make the student feel like they’re being interrogated.
    What makes you think it might be time for a change?”
    “What brought you here today?”
    “What happens when you (insert problem behavior)? What is that like for you?”
  3. Giving Advice: Telling students what to do usually does not work well. Most students prefer to be given choices to make their own decisions. Talking to the student in a non-judgemental tone of voice can allow him or her to make informed decisions about changing the problem behavior.
    “What do you know about how your (insert behavior) affecting your (i.e. relationships, health)?”
    [Followed by]
    “Are you interested in learning more about (insert problem behavior) and the benefits of quitting or changing (insert problem behavior)?”
    If the individual doesn’t want to change at this time..(which is common, he or she is not ready to hear more information or trust you yet)
    “I get the feeling that you are not ready to talk more about this at this time. We can discuss this at a later time when you are ready/ change your mind.” Let the student know that you will be around to listen which gives him or her the feeling that they’re not alone.
  4. Approval: Students are more likely to discuss change when respected and asked than when being told to change.
    “I noticed that you have (insert problem behavior). Do you mind if we talk how changing/quitting (insert problem behavior) might affect your life?”
  5. Normalizing: This technique is used to communicate that having difficulties changing is not uncommon for many students. I’ve found that giving personal examples or telling a story about someone I know can help in letting them understand this is a normal process.
    “A lot of students think about changing their (insert problem behavior).”
    “Most students struggle with (insert problem behavior).”
  6. Reflective Listening: This technique allows counselors to listen and paraphrase the student’s comments back. The goal of this technique is to build empathy, encourage the student to state their own reasons for change, and affirm the counselor understands their feeling.
    Example of starter sentences:
    It sounds like… , It seems as if.. , What I hear you saying.. , I get the sense that.. , I get the sense that this has been difficult..”


Credit: http://www.nova.edu/gsc