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Whether you and your family are year-round school or are enjoying summer break, it’s always the right time to learn how to improve your relationships with your children and set them up the best way you can for success.
I laugh at one of my colleagues in a major university who says it this way: “They arrive in their minivans and SUV’s, with sets of extra-long sheets, computers, and extension chords, already for a successful semester. They have researched campus safety, discount textbook outlets, and even individual professors. But they are not honor studentsÃ¢â?¬Â¦they are not even students at all. They are parents, prepared to swoop in to protect their college student from any level of harm or discomfort.” Life anything else, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Helicopter parents who have taken parental involvement a bit too far. The analogy of balance I like is to encourage parents to “come to the game,” cheer from the sidelines, but stay off the field.
Several cultural shifts are responsible for the change in parent behavior: technology, allowing us to stay connected 24/7 makes it easy to cross the line in over involvement, and safety threats, such as, Columbine and 911, pulling on our sense of security and control. The third reason is that parents want to “do better” than their own parents. They want more attention then they feel was paid to them, and society has increased the pressure to be successful in all areas of life, especially parenting.
Understandably, the big concern is that after 18 years of mom and dad hovering inches away, adolescents fail to develop safety skills, study and sleep habits, sharing skills and self-reliance. Parents have the best of intentions; they want their children to have the best so they do what they think is best for them. But in doing so have failed to look at all the life lessons their child has yet to learn because their parent has been so involved in their life.
The best advice is start well-ahead for this huge change of adulthood. Gradually give more responsibility, resist the temptation to step in, and allow your child to tackle issues outside their comfort zone. That is the best gift parents give their children.
5 Characteristics of Healthy Parental Involvement
School age children spend 70% of their waking hours (including weekends and holidays) outside of school. The majority of their learning happens with you! Contribute to their achievement by reading to them, taking trips together, guiding TV watching, and providing stimulating experiences contributing to their overall learning. Monitor their out-of-school activities; stay in tune with their worries and life pressures. Establish a time and quite place for studying; assign responsibility for household chores; remain firm about bedtime and dinner time.
Your example is your greatest influencing power – perhaps your only influencer. Model the value of learning, self-discipline, and hard work. Let them see you struggle to learn something new and stick with it until you’ve mastered it. Demonstrate that achievement comes from hard workÃ¢â?¬Â¦and only from hard work! Let them see the personal satisfaction that you experience from blood, sweat, and tears. Celebrate their success on a project by emphasizing how all their hard work paid off, as well.
Express your expectations with your child; keep them high but realistic. Children will usually aspire to what we set for themÃ¢â?¬Â¦that requires a wise balance. Set goals and standards that are age and child appropriate, recognize and encourage unique talents, and inform family and friends of child’s hard work and success. Rejoice in their talent and earned skills!
Encourage a child’s development and progress in school; encourage them to develop good supportive peer relationships; discuss the value of a good education and possible college and career options; stay in touch with teachers and school staff, their friends and their friends’ parents. Encourage discussions about all topics; let nothing be off-base. You want to be the expert your child trusts most. If you don’t know something say, “Let’s find out about this together,” and then follow through and do the research!
While we try and teach children all about life, they teach us what life is all about. Be enthusiastic about the things that motivate and inspire them. Get curious about them; allow them to teach you. Be active with them. If they’re interested in motocross, go to a motocross game. If they like bugs and slugs, allow bug and slugs to mean as much to you as that child means to you. Family participation in education (both in and out of the classroom) is 10 times more predictive of a child’s academic and life success than socioeconomic status. Be enthusiastic about THEM, most importantly! Greet them in the mornings or when they come home from school or work, enthusiastically! Let them know that you are happy to see them and that they are valued, by you, beyond measure!