Parents all over the country have been lambasted for helping their children so much and so often, that they’ve become overly-dependent, unable to accomplish anything on their own. Dubbed “helicopter parenting,” critics argue that parents raising the Millenial generation are doing them a great disservice, especially since the real world of today is much more economically bleak than the economy of previous generations. We should be preparing our children for self-reliance, not dependence. Of course, as parents, we want to help our children excel in school. But how much help is too much help? Here are a few things to consider:
1. Resist the temptation to essentially do the homework for them.
It takes significantly longer to explain different academic concepts to your child than it does to give them the answers. If your child does not understand a concept, it can be especially frustrating for you, since it’s likely to be a concept that you completely and easily understand. This frustration can mount so much so that you’re dying to just give them the answers. But be aware that an answer without understanding will only lead to future problems. Your child will do poorly at tests or in-class work, and that’ll just mean more help from you later down the road. Explain until they understand.
2. Explain a difficult concept using an example that isn’t part of your child’s homework.
The best way to stop yourself from practically giving out answers to your kid is to help them using an example that’s either in the textbook or an example that you made up. If you use a problem, from, say, a math homework sheet that you’re helping them with, then you’ll be tempted to give in to the habit of revealing answers.
3. For essays, read their work and make suggestions. Don’t correct errors outright.
Just like almost all skills, writing is a skill that requires practice. If your child is a mediocre writer, be aware that this means she needs to read more and write more. This is really the only secret to mastering an ability to write. Many parents will read their children’s research papers and essays and will make corrections regarding grammar, mechanics, and style. I think it’s certainly okay for parents to make verbal suggestions, but when you write in your corrections on your child’s essay, she’ll just make these corrections without ever thinking why.
4. Understand that failure is one of the most important parts of the learning process.
Kids and parents alike are simply terrified of failure. What they don’t realize is that never failing at anything means never learning anything. Kids especially need to become comfortable with failure in order to develop the thick skin necessary in an uncertain adult world.
What do you think? How much and to what extent do you help your children with their homework? What kind of help is okay, and what kind of help crosses the ethical line?