The parental instinct to hover and protect needs to take a back seat as kids enter the teen years. When you jump in to fix everything, you stunt your child’s emotional growth. You send the message that you don’t believe they can handle it themselves. Talk about contributing to a negative attitude and low self-esteem! You don’t mean to, but that’s what the kids hear. What you want to do is raise the bar. So what’s a parent to do to encourage that "can do" attitude?
- Remember that they will make mistakes and most of them are not fatal.
- Ask yourself the question, "Whose problem is it, anyway?" Unless it’s a matter of health or safety, the problem is usually theirs. Let them own it and deal with it. Take a deep breath and step aside.
- Ask your child a key question (and remember, tone of voice is everything when you ask this one), "What will you do about it?"
- Offer to help if they want it, but not to do it for them. The goal is for them to develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. That won’t happen if you take over.
If you’re really struggling to let go, ask for help. There are parenting workshops, counseling, parent coaching, books and more. What you do now matters. Not only are you preparing your kids for college, you’re preparing them for life. Step back so they can step up.
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