Parenting happens in discrete, unpredictable, and often terrifying moments, like when you see your son stand up in the playground to face another boy in a heated dispute. What do you do? Do you intervene ahead of the first punch? Or do you act like your own parents probably did, and let them fight it out?
Intervening before injury is a reasonable solution in this situation, but consider the syndrome of the helicopter parent. In the early 2000s, American college administrators started using the term to describe the mothers and fathers who hover over the lives of the Millennial Generation, interfering with teachers in grading, and even calling their kids at 7 a.m. to make sure they make it to class. Helicopter parents may be an extreme case of overprotectiveness, but their behavior raises the question of how deeply and how often we should involve ourselves in our children’s disputes.
Certain life lessons are better absorbed through experience, observation, and contemplation. Here are seven life lessons that every child should be given leeway to learn on their own.
You Are Responsible For Taking Care of Yourself.
Expecting your son to tie his shoes daily may be the first step toward teaching him to take care of himself. If he defies that expectation, he may earn a few scrapes and bruises, but a bandage or two may be an acceptable price for not having to wake him up at 7 a.m. every morning when he’s in college.
Do Your Part To Help
Running a household is a lot of work. Assigning chores to a child encourages a sense of community. When a child realizes that he’s part of a greater whole, then he has taken the first step to good citizenship.
Take Responsibility For Your Own Actions
Your pet and your growing child’s younger siblings have probably been blamed for more than one spill, breakage, and mess. Yet in dealing with these situations, your child learns that honesty is the best policy, and being imperfect doesn’t make him any less lovable.
With Freedom Comes Responsibility
Now that your toddler is walking, he’s filled with a sense of freedom—until he bangs his head on the glass sliding door. It’s a painful way to learn the importance of looking before lunging, but one can only hope, in the heady freedom of those future college days, that he’ll remember the lesson and reconsider streaking naked across the football field.
Hard Work Brings Benefits
While your toddler is screaming for candy in the grocery checkout line, it’s hard to imagine that he’s learning anything. But putting off immediate satisfaction has great benefits. Someday, when he receives his first paycheck, he may choose to save rather than give in to an impulse purchase.
How To Handle Failure
Only one child gets to play Mary in the Christmas Play, and it’s likely not your daughter. A child will go far in life if she accepts that setbacks are inevitable, understandable, and often opportunities in disguise.
It’s Not All About You
We like to be around people who can understand and sympathize with the situations of others. Empathy is one of the most powerful forces of family, community, and society, but it is difficult to teach. Your child likely takes his cue from the behavior of the community of adults and children in his life.