How NOT to be a Helicopter Parent
As a parent, I know I’ve wanted to swoop in and fix my child’s struggles, and sometimes one of my girls would let me. But more often, they wanted to do things their own way. As we get further into October, maybe you’ve found yourself wanting to swoop in as well. “If they would just let me email their teacher…If they would let their sibling help them with math…if they studied the way I suggested…” we think to ourselves and yet our students are not interested. They won’t accept your help, and they are not seeking help of their own. What should you do?
The secret is this: you are not meant to be the messenger; you are meant to provide supports for your student. If your student was struggling with a health issue, you would take them to go see a professional, a doctor. In the same way, providing supports and professionals for your student gives them a road map to move through their struggles. If your student is struggling emotionally, seeking out a therapist or psychiatrist might be a good support. If they are struggling academically, finding a tutor who meets their educational needs is a great option.
These are the types of students we see walk through our doors on a daily basis at Wright Academics, and our approach, of providing supports, allows students to become self-advocates. We never tell students how to do something, but we do help them figure out what could possibly work for them. We provide guidance. While we won’t write an email to their teacher, we will sit next to a student providing support and, potentially, help with wording. The key is this: the more students learn to do for themselves, the better their self-efficacy.
This approach works well for organization, executive functioning, and academic strategies. We slowly introduce our students to different ways to organize their things, execute an assignment, or study for a test. At Wright Academics, many of our students have embraced this approach and gone on to achieve incredible feats in the classroom and beyond.
A Prime Example
One great example of this is student, Erika. Initially, Erika was having trouble reading, and her mom provided her support by bringing her to Wright Academics. We found her a tutor who could help her navigate dyslexia. I ended up being that tutor, and we used an evidence-based approach to help her with reading. I showed her different strategies for learning material and studying. The bottom line? Erika didn’t learn through just one way; she learned through new approaches to learning that she hadn’t been taught in school.
Because Erika was given supports at a young age, she gained a lot of confidence in her own abilities. Gradually, she became more comfortable with taking risks resulting in registering for harder classes, like AP English. Her confidence spilled over into leadership roles in clubs, sports, and other activities, and she is now on a pre-PA track in college, a rigorous educational path by all accounts.
The most important lesson Erika learned? To ask for help. Once she saw how much having supports benefited her, she began to see asking for help as a sign of strength. May we, as parents and leaders, model this concept for our students and watch as they grow up to be powerful self-advocates.
My gentle reminder to you? If your student is stuck, seek out supports. They are available and ready to help both you and your student.
If you are interested in learning more about our academic coaching or the resources we recommend, click HERE.
About Evelyn Wright
Evelyn Wright is the Director of Wright Academics, a tutoring business created to target kids’ specific needs. Her passion is helping students and families succeed so that they achieve their maximum potential in and out of the classroom.
With over 25 years of experience working with children and their families in public and private schools, as well as in private practice, Evelyn’s focus is understanding the individual’s learning profile, guiding families of children with learning differences and matching students to the tutor or coach that best fits the student. She believes in not only matching educational needs to the right tutor’s skills, but matching a student to the tutor with the right personality.