Well, it is that time of year. Slowly we are creeping into our new routines before and after school. This is a great time to check in with ourselves to see if we are working too hard for our children's success in school. I've already had to bite my tongue, sit on my hands, and walk away to keep myself from helping my children adjust to their new school starting time (7:30 a.m., really?), time management, homework load, organization and extracurricular activities...That pretty much covers it, doesn't it?
Here is a great article from Empowering Parents on learning the balance between being a responsible parent and "helping" too much:
Learned Helplessness: Are You doing Too Much for Your Child?
My favorite highlight of the article is: Stay in your own box: We must learn to distinguish what is our responsibility as a guiding parent, and what is our child's life lesson.
How do we do this?
1. Recognize when we are helping too much. Usually, if we are stressed or worried about our child's “something” getting done, we are totally in their box. You know the feeling: tense stomach, clenched teeth, hands all over their backpack and school work. What can you do to get out of his or her box, and back into your own?
2. Expect resistance to our retreat. Whenever we change parenting behavior, we can expect that our children won't like it, especially when we are not "helping" them (read: "doing things for them") as much as we were before. Signs that you are getting resistance from your child: Whining, thrashing about, "I can't do it," "I'm not smart enough," "I'm too tired," maybe even some yelling and stomping. This is when we really have to stick to our parenting guns.
3. Expect resistance to our retreat. No, that isn't a typo. I did repeat #2, except that #2 is about our child's resistance to change. This one is about our own resistance to changing. We don't like to see our children fail. Ever. It is hard to stop ourselves from reminding our children about the importance of sleep, protein for breakfast, their need to manage their time wisely, and on and on. For awhile, we might be biting our nails, walking away, hand over mouth, trying to be calm and detached when asking, "So, you got that assignment done, right...? And it's in your backpack, right...?" Then stopping ourselves from running to the backpack and double checking.
4. Stay in our own box! As we consistently remain in check with our responsibilities versus our children's, they will figure out how to accomplish tasks on their own, and we will figure out how to let them.
We can support our kids in managing their time and responsibilities so they can learn those life skills that we had to learn as kids. At the same time, we are lowering our stress level by not adding our child's responsibilities to our own long list of "to-dos."
Enjoy the routine of the new school year, and may you have many opportunities to remain free and clear of what is your child’s to do!
Helpful Parenting Sites: