This is a wakeup call for American parents: Too much is being done for their children. This is what “helicopter parenting” stands for. We remove all obstacles to ensure that our children don’t face any challenges.
When I was a single mom, there were many rules that I did not like. My No. My No. 1 rule was: Don’t do any thing for your children that they can do themselves.
It worked out well for my daughters. All three grew up to be highly successful: Susan is the CEO of YouTube, Janet is a doctor, and Anne is the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe. They rose to the top in male-dominated competitive fields.
Parents should stop coddling their children
Your children will be more confident if they can do their own thing. Begin with guided practice. It’s the “I Do, We Do, You Do” method.
This can be done with everyday, simple actions.
- Get up and get moving Allow them to set their own alarms.
- Getting dressed: Let them choose their own outfit.
- Breakfast/lunch/dinner: Allow them to do simple tasks, such as making pancake batter, cleaning out their lunchboxes and setting the tables.
- Get their backpack ready Give them a list to help you make sure they have everything they need.
- Plan making: Let them create weekend or after-school activities.
- Do you need to check your homework? It’s OK if they don’t get all the answers right. Let them learn from their mistakes.
Chores are very important. We were big on washing dishes. My daughters were able to wash dishes by standing on a stool at the sink.
When we went grocery shopping together, I asked them to buy two pounds of apples. They had to select the best apples, which I had taught them, and weigh pounds on the scale.
They’d be able to help me choose what to put back if we looked at our grocery budget.
I expected my daughters would make their beds every morning. Ha! Ha! They were not my enemies. I was content as long as they did it.
Mastery can be achieved by doing the same thing over and over again until it is perfected. This is what I learned from my experience as a writing teacher. One of the characteristics of a great teacher in the 80s and 1990s was the ability to make your classes so difficult that all students failed.
However, the D-failing students found it difficult to get back to their best and lost the desire to improve.
I allowed them to revise their work as many as they desired. Their final product was the basis of their grade. My students scored in the 90th percentile on state exams when it was time to test.
It was the learning process and the hard work I wanted to reward, rather than getting it right the first try.
To be clear, this does not mean that your children should do things they don’t understand or can’t do. Nor am I suggesting that they should play on the streets if it is unsafe. Or walk to the shop if the area is dangerous.
It is my goal to help them cope with whatever life throws at us. One of the most important lessons that I have taught my daughters was that you cannot control what you react to.
Trusting your children to make their decisions makes them feel more empowered, confident, and engaged. There is no limit to their potential once they are able to trust each other.
Esther Wojcicki is an educator, journalist, and bestselling author of “How to Raise Successful People.” She is also the co-founder of Tract.app and chief parenting office at Sesh. Follow her on Twitter @EstherWojcicki.