Kids that are over parented can have poor Coping Skills.

th-2The best way to teach your teen good coping skills is by literally backing off and giving them some room.  Let your children think through solutions when they are dealing with a challenge or problem. I see coping skills as falling into the “street smarts” category.  They aren’t something that one will learn at school. Coping skills are something that one needs to practice and exercise often in order to acquire and master. Parents can practice (and guide) good coping skills with teens to see how they handle certain situations. Some ideas your teen has will be effective and other will not. But that’s ok… this is how they learn. They need to problem solve, become more resourceful and at the very core…. learn self-reliance.  Otherwise, they will look to you every time they deal with a challenge.  What will they do when you aren’t around?  How will they handle peer pressure, an emergency or a difficult conflict?

I was working with a teen client the other week, who became unraveled over a particular conflict she was dealing with that day.  Now, her reaction to the situation seemed a bit over the top, but that’s ok…..she’s a teen and her feelings are valid. I was sympathetic and there to listen. However, I found myself falling into the trap of “problem solving” for this teen because she seemed so distraught. I thought I needed to “fix it” for her. As expected, she kept telling me why every solution I had wouldn’t work and so I kept coming up with more ideas, only to have each new one rejected by her again and again.  Finally I stopped, looked at her and said: “You are very upset about this and I understand. I’m happy to help, but it’s up to you to figure out what that best solution should be. I’m here as a resource and a sounding board.” She actually stopped playing the “victim” and started to think through some solutions herself when I gave her the “green light” to take the lead.

Remember, teens need encouragement and space to think through the pros and cons associated with different outcomes.  It’s not up to you (as a parent) to provide them with all the solutions.  We need more quick thinkers; people who can resolve their own issues without chaos and drama. Parents who allow their children to take the lead on their own issues (within reason) tend to have less anxious children  And the opposite is true as well. Kids that are over parented tend to have poor coping skills.

Helicopter Parents-Please Give Your Kids Some Room

I know this may be an unpopular statement to make, but parents you must give your children room to breathe!

Every Saturday at my gym there is a karate class right next to where I work out. Weekly, I watch all these adorable children (probably between the ages of 5-9) go to class. I watch parents file their children in and hand them over to one of the instructors and then leave. However, time and time again, I watch this one mother go ahead into the classroom with her child, sit herself down, and stay for the entire karate lesson.  I’m not quite sure why she thinks this would benefit the child because it’s clear to me and probably anybody else watching that this is not the best idea.  The child does not spend his time watching the instructors, but rather his mother. He really  isn’t paying attention to the movements/forms or connecting with the other children.  The child looks over to his mother constantly for approval and his skills are not where they should be in relation to the rest of the children in the class. Why? Because he’s torn between instructor and mother and at this young age, mother will always win. He’s afraid to disappoint mom and therefore doesn’t take any age appropriate risks. Risks which are critical for healthy growth. We are talking about the fourth stage of  psychological development called “Industry vs Inferiority.”  Erikson coined this period as a time when the child must deal with demands to learn new skills or risk a sense of incompetence.  I’m sure this is not with the mother intends; however, I don’t know how she cannot see the distress on her child’s face as he keeps looking to her with every move he makes.

Parents, let your children develop a sense of independence.  There is nothing wrong with sitting on the sideline watching, but please no hovering. Remember, you are already larger than life to your child so please give them room to breathe if you want them to grow into independent, autonomous teens with healthy self-esteem.