Today’s blog written by Ellen Shapira, Education & Career Counselor
A recent college graduate, Jennifer, has become a client at JFCS. She was a business major with decent grades and is now trying to launch her career. She reported that her mother wrote some of her college papers, called professors on her behalf and consulted with the dean of students frequently regarding a roommate issue. Jennifer is having anxiety issues regarding her job search and has not developed the kind of coping skills needed to launch a career in this economy.
As a parent, are you doing your part in helping your student develop the self-management skills necessary for college success? Students need to be able to function independently away from home and too much “helicopter parenting” may result in a difficult transition from high school to college.
To gauge if you may have some helicopter parenting tendencies, consider the following questions:
Your student has left for school and while having your second cup of coffee you notice an important folder containing homework to be turned in which has been left behind on the kitchen counter. Do you:
- Rush to get in the car and deliver the folder to your child at school.
- Make a mental note to remind your child later in the day about the oversight and try to teach some organizational techniques, which will help for the future.
Your student comes home from school and reports that he/she has been wrongly disciplined by a teacher for a minor behavior issue. Do you:
- Call the teacher to find out what happened and advocate for your child’s explanation of the incident.
- Talk to your child about the importance of following and/or adjusting to the teacher’s rules and talk over strategies for preventing this type of problem.
Your child is having difficulty getting around to completing homework tasks at night. Do you:
- Sit down with your child and actually do most of the assignments yourself to show how it is done.
- Have a designated area and time for the child to complete homework with you nearby to answer questions and make suggestions how to start.
If you answered “A” to the above questions and your child is in first grade you may be ok. However, if you were an “A” responder and your child is a senior in high school, you may possess helicopter tendencies. Rushing assignments to school may help the student with the immediate grade in the class but in the long run your student will not be developing his own self-management skills necessary for later college success. Children need to suffer the consequences of their own mistakes in order to learn. Children also need skills to handle their own confrontations or difficulties with teachers and figure out how to manage their homework on their own.
Parents naturally want to protect their children and make their lives easier and more pleasant, but at what price? As children get older, parents need to be less and less involved with their daily lives, gradually teaching new self-management skills and allowing them to develop their own coping strategies. Learning how to solve life’s small problems is required for children to grow into adulthood with the necessary skills to handle life’s larger problems.
If you are a parent concerned about your high school student’s developing independence, his or her readiness to handle going off to college, and your own fears of being too intrusive as a helicopter parent, counselors at JFCS are available to help with these and/or other college related issues. On July 30 at 7PM, JFCS will be offering a workshop, “Helping Your Child Leave” which will help parents of departing college students deal with the transition process and issues of empty nesting. Call 452-6341 for information on any of these services.