Every now and then, it helps to get a little confirmation that we’re parenting in the best interest of our children.
We’ve pulled together some research and credible headlines that confirm we do not have to meddle in the affairs of our offspring nearly as much as we may THINK we do. Take it from the experts- interfering is ineffective. Many of you are recovering from Helicopter tendencies (we all have at one point or another!).
This post is to inform you and inspire a boost in motivation to continue down the Duct Tape Parenting Road.
In Short Knock it Off and Don’t Be:
Futurity.org: Children are less engaged when moms tell them how to play, according to a study that finds kids have more negative feelings toward “directive” moms. Read the post, here.
What does this mean for you? It means you can butt out when kids are playing. You can let them argue, disagree, play something you don’t really like, lose at the game and so forth and NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT IT. In fact, throw some Duct Tape on your ears (if it’s annoying to you) and go put your feet up and enjoy the freedom to stay out! Heck, have an adult conversation. Go for it.
“The practice of forcing children to begin working what amounts to a second shift after they get home from a full day of school has absolutely no proven benefits before high school, and there are increasing reasons to doubt its value even in high school. What kids need, therefore, are parents willing to question the conventional wisdom and to organize others to challenge school practices when that seems necessary. What kids don’t need is the kind of parental involvement that consists of pestering them to make sure they do their homework – whether or not it’s worth doing.” – Alfie Kohn
Click HERE to read the entire Washington Post Article, Is parent involvement in school really useful?
What does this mean for you? This means if your life is all about getting things done, checking work off the list, giving up free and creative time, and making sure kids are on it, on it, on it all the time, then you can let go and NOT FEEL GUILTY about it. You can challenge the fact that this might not be the right way to spend your time with your child (and know it won’t screw up his entire future if you choose say, reading or creative or quiet time over the daily nag festival).
Overparenting is characterized in the study as parents’ “misguided attempt to improve their child’s current and future personal and academic success.”
From: Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail: A new study explores what happens to students who aren’t allowed to suffer through setbacks.
“Year after year, my “best” students — the ones who are happiest and successful in their lives — are the students who were allowed to fail, held responsible for missteps, and challenged to be the best people they could be in the face of their mistakes.” - Jessica Lahey – Read the entire ATLANTIC article, here.
What Does this mean for you? It means go for it, step back. Let that kid go to school in PJs. Allow the child to forget a lunch. Oops, he forgot a mitten? Great! Think of all the little lessons your child will learn when you refrain – even if you REALLY WANT to swoop in and fix, save, help, and avoid discomfort. Let ‘em ride and DON’T FEEL GUILTY about it. It’s good for these kids to fall and bounce. We call these “Duct Tape Moments” - write yours down and tell us about it.
“Assume that children naturally want to be authorities, that they want challenges (even if it hurts), that they want to take responsibility, make decisions, make mistakes, and learn from consequences—just like the rest of us. (Actually kids tend to be better at all this than adults.)” – Rick Ackerly, Author of The Genius in Every Child.
What does this mean for you? This means that you can toss the idea that power struggles must be won at all costs. You can challenge the notion that kids who don’t listen the first time are “bad” or that because you are the “adult” you must always win. Allow the kid some space to choose NOT to obey or make his own agenda, like: making his lunch, choosing the clothes he likes and so forth. It’s natural for kids to want to try things and even fail. So, again, no feeling bad if you let your child have some slack (and he screws up) or you lose a battle (keep the ego in check!). No biggie. Keep it moving.
Alfie Kohn: Why Punishment Doesn’t Work
“What punishments—even if they’re euphemistically called “consequences” (so we can feel better about making a child feel bad)—really do is make the child angry, teach him that you get your way in life by using your power over those who are weaker, and make it less likely that he’ll focus on how his actions affect others.”
“Kohn’s view is consistent with the perspective of restorative practices, which seeks to develop good habits in students not only when someone is watching, but more importantly when no one is looking. That means that children (and also adults) have to find their own intrinsic motivation and take responsibility for their own behavioral choices.” – Read the EdWeek article here.
What does this mean for you? It essentially says that punishment is really about power, not teaching the child a lesson- so you can ease up on the “punishment” reflex (if this is one of your parenting tripups)! He indicates having a “fixed” list of punishments for “offenses” (vs. having a flexible, case by case response) is not really in the interest of the child. He mentions when we get all rigid and don’t allow for context (zero tolerance style), it’s just a “doing to” approach and not a “working with” approach. Children will learn so many lessons without parental interference (mom and dad driving home a superimposed lesson to prove they were right or the child was wrong) that it’s unnecessary and unhealthy for the relationship if we abandon the “working with” response. Bottom line, working with a child who makes mistakes is more effective than punishment by “doing to.”
Article via the Washington Post: Life skills all teens should have before graduating from high school- By Mari-Jane Williams
“We do all of these protective things when they are in high school, and then a lot of them end up partying more and forgetting to do laundry, forgetting to study, especially because they’re not in the habit of doing these things and no one is telling them to do it. None of these things are particularly earth-shattering, but they do add up.”
What does this mean for you? It means slowing down to realize all the ordinary (to us, not them) ways teens can practice creating their own personal structure systems for: schedules, accounts, communication, studying, and more. This means spending an afternoon explaining ATM deposits and withdrawals and letting him or her practice IS a good way to spend a Saturday. It means letting their laundry become their responsibility, even if they don’t get it done. It means taking the time to train them to use a calendar- or other organizational tools. It means powering off so they can practice real world conversations, planning, cooking and so forth. The key takeaway is that kids only have a few years to practice this kind of “real life stuff”- and there’s a lot of it! If parents don’t realize the importance of this process, the kids will be out the door with an iffy sense of how to navigate the world. So, go for it- slow it down. Let the teens do all that stuff we don’t like either. It’s good practice.
Note: Start the training early so by this time, they’re ready to move on to bigger things than laundry!