Your child’s success: How are you standing in the way?

We have recently been reading article after article on the trials and tribulations of ‘helicopter parents’- how we as parents don’t even know we are doing it and how it is NOT serving our kids well.

Here are but a few of such articles: 

Have  American Parents Got It All Backwards?

Hover No More: Helicopter Parents May Breed Depression and Incompetence in Their Children

A Loss Of Perspective: The Perils Of Parenting

How Helicopter Parents Can Ruin Kids’ Job Prospects 

‘Helicopter Parents’ Cause Long Term Issues 

You get the gist..

As parents we all want what is best for our kids.  We want to give them everything and of course we approach it with best intentions – yet at what cost? We are learning it is our children who end up suffering, both as young adults and as leaders, as parents fulfill their own needs rather than meeting the needs of their kids.

So how do you know if you are a helicopter parent?

You can check out the 4 Signs You Might Be a ‘Helicopter Parent’ — And How You Can Stop here

(Notice how the solutions offered are focused around communication and relationship building)

One thing that comes through loud and clear in all these articles is the importance of supporting struggle, frustration and failure in our kids at any age. It builds resilience.  When we protect our kids from failure they don’t learn.  When we constantly “fix” and “solve” our kids problems they don’t experience struggle, frustration or failure – a.k.a they don’t learn how to fix their own problems and they don’t have the opportunity to develop confidence in problem solving.

When we constantly tell our kids what to do and how to do it, how are we supporting or nourishing their ability to problem solve, make choices, be independent, rise to and experience challenges, learn, think independently, understand their needs, or connect with the others?  How can we expect them to find jobs, lead teams, accomplish goals, or have ambition?

Then when they don’t match or exceed our expectation we blame them, shame them and even judge them for it.  As parents we need to change how we show up for our kids.

Being involved in our kids’ lives is important.  However, what we do is no longer as important as HOW we do it.

What would it be like for parents to take a step back and support our children to be independent, competent and connected?

What would it be like to trust our children and their ability to make decisions that will work for them?

What would it be like to be curious about your child, inviting them to be apart of the decision-making process, or have them lead the problem solving process, making them accountable for its success?

What would it be like to be open to doing something differently?  Perhaps you could approach something from your child’s perspective and see what you can all learn from their perspective.

What would it be like to connect with your child?  To truly see, hear and understand who they are and where they are at.  And what would that be like for them?

We invite parents to stop, take a breath, and take a step back – even those parents who believe they are not ‘helicopter parents’.   So many of us have helicopter tendencies wanting to keep our kids hurt free, tantrum free, happy and successful.  Parents, it is time to get real.   In the next week we challenge you to bring your awareness to your parenting style.   Be a curious observer of yourself and keep track of:

  • How often do you let your kids struggle, feel frustrated or fail?   What is that like for you?
  •  How often do you find yourself fixing, solving and telling your kids what to do?  How come?
  • Finally, when using the strategies above what do you notice about your relationship?  How does it make you feel?  What about your kid?

Curious to know more? Check out our Parenting Challenge and how to support your child


Share with us your craziest ‘helicopter parent’ experience.. You know we have all had at least one!

“Abundance is Our Future”

Last week we discussed communication as nourishment (Are you Settling For Less?). How so many of us are settling for, or accepting of, that feeling of “not enough” and how that mentality affects everything that we do: every conversation we have, every decision we make, every question we ask, and every relationship we are in.   We challenged you to approach your life, your relationships, and your conversations from a place of abundance, filling yourselves up.  Peter Diamandis does something similar in his TED talk “Abundance is our Future”.

Mr. Diamandis opens his TED with how news media preferentially feed us negative stories because that’s what our minds pay attention to.  How if we were given a dozen news stories to choose from we would preferentially look at the negative ones and that with all of our electronic devices and news 24/7, it’s no wonder so many people are pessimistic and believing the world is getting worse.  However, if you are to take a step back and look at it from a different perspective, he would argue that it’s just distortions brought to us of what’s really going on and in fact our world is in a better place now than it’s ever been, obviously not without it’s share of challenges.

The same way our minds pay attention to negative news stories, given a dozen conversations we have daily, we would preferentially look at the negative ones – it’s what our minds pay attention to.  Given the number of conversations we have, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and accepting of the feeling of not enough.  Like Peter Diamandis, we too believe that this perspective is just distortions brought to us of what’s really going on and we can choose a more productive and abundant outcome.

This TED is an inspiring example of the power of being open and curious to infinite possibilities, the power of reframing, and an affirmation that like communication we have the tools to make a difference, it’s how we choose to use them.

Abundance by his definition is  “creating a life of possibility”.  Imagine what it would be like to have abundant conversations that would affect positive change in every person you speak with?  Conversations where all parties feel seen, heard, and understood?  Where conversations nourished all those you spoke with (your children, your partner, your friends, your colleagues, your employees, your costumers)?  What would it be like if we gave the same attention to the positive communication as we do to the negative ones?

We agree with Peter Diamandis, we have the potential to create a world full of abundance and that world starts with you.  What new possibility are you curious about and going to create in your life?

Are you a teller? Find out and how it affects your relationships

How to be a Thinking Partner:  Finding a solution that really works

Have you ever noticed how when a friend or colleague starts to describe a problem they are having you want to jump in and solve it?  Maybe you have even done just that, given advice, solved a problem, suggested a solution, or told someone what to do.  As one explains “it makes me feel good, like I’m a valuable friend”.  How do you find they react to your offering of advice, your attempt to solve their problem?  How do you feel after you have told them what they SHOULD do?  Even if they do follow your advice to the letter, what kind of message are you giving to them when you take over their problem and provide a solution for them?

We all want to be experts in our lives: as professionals, as parents, as colleagues, as friends.  We, as people, love to solve problems and “help” by giving solutions and telling people what to do. It makes us feel valuable, it makes us feel useful, and it makes us feel knowledgeable.  And yet, when people tell us what to do, how come it makes us feel so crummy?

As a new year begins and new intentions and goals have been made, how many of you have had someone tell you how to reach your goal, how to do your job, or what they feel would be best for you?  Now, how many of you have done the same to others?

In our experience, we find people aren’t overly happy being told what to do or how to do it.  It messages that we aren’t capable of solving our own problems, thinking thru our own solutions or have the knowledge, value, expertise to complete our job or life effectively. This hierarchal approach puts us in a position where we may consider our ideas or actions wrong and the teller’s ideas right, often making us feel badly about ourselves, judged and times disrespected.  Not the most effective way to build and nurture relationships!

So, how can we make a change? When we feel we don’t have the ability, the information, the understanding or the emotional objectivity needed to make a good judgment call and a wise decision, how can we get feedback from others that feel’s constructive rather than destructive?  When someone comes to us sharing problems, challenges, or questions how can we switch from wanting to be the teller/ problem solver while still feeling valued in the conversation and relationship?  Here are some helpful quick tips how:

How to stop being the “teller” and start being a thinking partner:

1. LISTEN.  Based on our experience, when there is a need to make a decision, ask for advice, or emotional objectivity requested, more often than not the speaker just wants to be heard.  Just because someone is sharing a story, a conflict, a challenge, or a need for a decision with you doesn’t mean they are seeking advice or there is a problem to be solved.  The speaker could just want to be heard.   It’s really important to take the time to listen to the speaker so you can hear where the conflict or challenge is for them.  If we don’t take the time to hear them correctly, whose conflict or challenge are we wanting to “solve”?  Ours or theirs? (Check out 3 levels of listening on how to be a better listener)

2. ASK QUESTIONS: If we don’t listen clearly, we can’t dig deeper or be curious about where their conflict lies.  While it might be faster and more satisfying to just tell them what to do or how to do it, if we don’t ASK them what they want or need out of the situation then who is this really about?  Ask questions, preferably open questions!   eg. How do you see resolving the issue?  How could you see this situation differently? What do you want to do about it?  What is it that you want?  For those of you who really REALLY need to have your voice or solution heard, instead of telling them what you think, ASK them what you think.  eg what do you think about ….?  How do you feel about ….. ? Asking open questions allows the listeners to not be attached to the outcome or solutions, instead this holds the focus on the speaker so they can gain clarity and think through how they want to proceed.  (Open questions are who, what, where, when, and how.  Tell me more is also a great way to dig deeper into understanding their perspective and what they want.  Why often carries notions of judgement and so we advise to use sparingly.)

Being mindful of the speaker by listening to them, hearing their perspective and asking open questions will allow the focus to remain on the speaker, what they want and how they see resolving their own issues. (Remember, this is about them not YOU).  It is also an opportunity for learning as the speaker comes to their own solutions and resolutions.   This approach builds trust in the relationship, it messages the listener (former teller) trusts the speaker has the ability, knowledge, and expertise to solve their own problems.   It creates collaborative thinking partners.

How to turn a teller into a thinking partner

Instead of feeling like the person listening to you is telling you what to do, think of them as someone who will work with you to develop a solution that works best for you.  Here is a tip you can try when you feel you are being TOLD:

1. ASK QUESTIONS:  Once you have been told what you SHOULD do, it’s an opportunity to initiate the partnership.  Begin to ask them open questions about what they have told you (eg. “What did you mean by that? How do you see that helping me? What could I gain from that? What about if I …..”), adding extra bits of information to help both of you gain clarity around the issue, while including your ideas so you can begin to work towards figuring out what you want to do.  Even if they continue to own “your” (read their) solution and insist you need to ‘do it’, you can still gather this information and reframe it by thinking of it as sharing of ideas between partners to find the solution that works best for you.

At times, turning a teller into a thinking partner can be a challenge, and one worth the time and effort.  As tellers aren’t aware of how much they tell, or how it makes others feel, simply stopping the conversation and being curious (eg. “While I appreciate you wanting to help me, I am wondering how come you feel the need to solve my problem?”) can be a great start.

The next time you are venting about an issue or really do seek the opinion of another, play with the notion of partnering with them to come up with the solution that will work best for you.  Notice how you feel once you have finished this shared dialogue.

Like what you see and want to share with others, no problem.  Here is what you must include:

Property of coaching culutre®, founded by Katherine Taberner and Kirsten Siggins.