We’ve all heard of helicopter parenting but how about bulldozer parenting? Unlike helicopter parents, who tend to hover over their child’s every move in an effort to control outcomes, the bulldozer is more about destroying anything (or anyone) unpleasant that crosses their child’s path. A teacher assigns their unmotivated teen a bad grade? Have them fired. A coach corrects their soccer-playing daughter for displaying poor sportsmanship? Ditto.
This method of extreme hands-on parenting has become not only very common but also a subject of debate. Are bulldozers allowing children sufficient opportunities to fail and therefore develop resiliency? Are they teaching them respect regarding differences of opinion, or is it more of a “my way or the highway” mentality?
Bulldozer parents often defend their actions by saying things like, “At least I’m involved with my child! My parents completely ignored me,” and “If I don’t step in, my kid will fail math and that’s not acceptable.” But numerous studies have shown that not allowing children to create their own solutions to problems has far-reaching negative consequences including a lack of coping strategies, decreased self-esteem, and emotional fragility.
Are you a bulldozer parent? If so, or even if you’re just a typical parent who struggles with not doing everything for their child, here are four suggestions for teaching your child resiliency:
- Allow them to make age-appropriate choices. For younger children, give them a choice between “A” and “B”.
- Teach them problem-solving skills. It’s okay for them to take their time in this regard, and to discover for themselves what works best.
- Give them responsibilities. You might want to post a chart that shows them what they are supposed to do, and when.
- Don’t try to “fix” your child’s feelings when they have disappointments. Instead, be with them, express empathy, and teach them how to manage their own disappointment. Be sure that you are communicating that you love them for who they are, not what they accomplish.