FCMB Goes Back to School :: No Fly Zone {Why to Resist Being a Helicopter Parent}

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As mothers, we understand one of the most critical components to our children’s young lives is their education. Since it’s time to ring in a new school year, the contributors at Fairfield County Moms Blog wanted to share some tips, tricks, and words of wisdom to help you through this exciting, yet stressful time. Be sure to keep a look out for our Education Series posts all this week!
Helicopter flyer

Having a child in school can be quite a challenge. While we know they are off learning a plethora of new skills, we are left to make lunches, help with homework, chase down the bus, cross our fingers when the note about the extremely contagious stomach bug comes home in their backpack, and more.

As a higher education professional, there is another challenge I am all too familiar with witnessing: the ability for parents to set boundaries when it comes to assisting their child in school. Some of the students that I have worked with over the past dozen years are able to navigate the college process seamlessly, while others are unable to walk into my office to ask a question about an orientation session. What is the difference between these types of students and more importantly, why does it matter?

The difference is that college is the bridge from the K-12 system into the “real world.” What post-secondary students learn outside the classroom while on campus is just as critical as what they learn inside. Parents will not be there to help answer questions at job interviews or to negotiate a starting salary. These positive habits are critical to surviving and thriving. 

Many of you reading this have young children and are probably thinking, “I don’t need to worry about this for years to come,” but I would strongly argue otherwise. You are setting the foundation for your child’s ability to self-advocate and garner self-confidence from the time they are a toddler. So regardless of their current grade status, here are a few tips to help lay the ground work to raise independent students.

Know when to take a step back.

If your 5th grader is being bullied at school and you feel that the administration is not addressing it, should you get involved? Of course. But if your 5th grader is having a hard time with fractions, encourage them to ask the teacher for help first. While the conversation can be intimidating, the confidence gained is irreplaceable. If your child is particularly anxious about asking for help, offer to role play the conversation with them first.

Lead by example. 

When you feel it is time to head to school to address an issue, being calm and cool is key. If your children see you react with rage and frustration, they will get the message that they can treat teachers, staff, and administrators the same way. If you feel a conversation could end up becoming heated, coordinate a time to have that chat in private without your child present.

Praise for progress. 

In the times that your child is able to problem solve an issue at school, be sure to recognize the progress they made. Not only will they feel more confident about their troubleshooting, but they will be more likely to take the lead on a future issue.

We all know that the urge to be a mama bear (or papa bear) can be all-consuming; it is only natural. Yet as our children grow up, we have to accept that we won’t always be in their presence to come to their aid. So, instead of being a helicopter parent, continuously getting involved with small concerns at school, encourage your child to do the flying on their own. One day, they will leave the nest and the more practice they have flapping those wings, the more likely they will be able to stay in the air. 

What are your thoughts? Comment below!

Be sure to read all the posts in our Back to School Series by clicking here.

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