Did you ever think of yourself as a coach for your child? Children have coaches helping them excel in sports; parents have coaches to help them make tough career choices, or even to be better parents! A coach is there for support and encouragement, tips of the trade and to help you get ahead in the game. But a coach doesn’t play the game for you! A coach pushes you to do your very best, explains the rules and then lets you do your thing.
Parents can be coaches, too, though sometimes the urge to “micro-manage” our children can be difficult to overcome. Doing or re-doing what the child could have done for himself, commenting on what the child could have done differently instead of providing encouraging words. “Micro-management goes against natural development,” says clinical psychologist and author Marc Nemiroff, PhD. “It takes away the child’s experience and [impedes] his learning how to handle himself in the world. Part of the job of the parent is not to do everything for the child, but to help him do things more and more independently.”
Other parents are what we have lovingly termed “helicopter parents,” the subject of numerous stories about parents who go to college with their children or fight employers for them. There’s even a quiz online you can take to see if you are one! Helicopter parents have a hard time allowing their children to make any of their own decisions, and though their intentions are good, it may seem to a child like they are being smothered.
It’s important for children to be given opportunity to make their own mistakes and to live with the consequences. It’s hard for us as parents to sit back and watch sometimes, but being the coach on the sidelines can be positive for your child. Checking in on your child’s Facebook page or peeking at the video monitor at their child care program doesn’t mean you’re hovering or micro-managing. You’re observing their lives from a distance, allowing them to create their own experiences. A child that can make her own choices, with your loving coaching, can become more independent and confident in their decision making. We’ve already explained the rules, and we offer daily support and encouragement. It’s time to let them do their own thing.