DR. ANDIE COMMENTS ON:
Dr. Andie welcomes questions relating to children social/emotional issues that parents may have. They will be posted on both the Dr. Andie E-Newsletter as well as this website.
Submit your question to "Ask Dr. Andie" -- click here.
The Power of No
Helicopter Parent vs Parent Investor
Helping Children Build Friendships
Teen Stress; Observation on a Stress-filled Generation
Bullying: Girls vs Girls
Developing Empathy in Your Child
Shy vs Outgoing Siblings
THE POWER OF NO
Even though the word ”no” is such a small word, it carries quite a big punch. Think about… how many times in a day do you hear that word? You drive to the supermarket, and see a sign “No parking”, go into the store and ask about a particular brand that you want only to be told “No, we are out of that particular product” and later call for dinner reservations for a particular time and hear “ No, sorry we can’t accommodate you at that time”. This little word “no” seems to be more commonplace than we ever imagined.
Children learn the word at an early age for boundary setting and safety concerns. Yet, as parents, we may feel that when we say “no” we have to deal with confrontation and unhappy children. But did you ever think that the power of no can also really teach our children an important lesson in a positive way? By saying “no” appropriately can also teach our kids to be appreciative, less self-motivated, and more centered.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where the message is more is better. More clothes, more cars, and more of anything is suppose to make us all happier. As a result, our children get caught up in this material obsessed way of thinking and feel entitled. Let’s face it– children will always ask for things whether they need them or not. And when parents take the easy road and say “yes” just to quiet them or to appease their own guilt feelings for not being a good enough parent, kids quickly learn not to appreciate what they have, become spoiled, and lack the motivation to work for what they want. Saying no does not have to be a punishment and it’s important to explain why you’re saying no and what you are trying to teach them. The power of no can actually lead to raising children that have determination, appreciation, and being a successful person.
As parents, isn’t that what we all want??
HELICOPTER PARENT VS PARENT INVESTOR
Helicopter Parenting: Helping or Hindering?
What does the term "helicopter parenting" mean? The term "helicopter parenting" is a media description that refers to parents that "hover" over their children by protecting them and intervening in their lives at all costs. They are coined this term because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, always being overly connected, regardless whether their children need them or not. These parents go overboard in over-parenting their children, making sure they never get hurt, never lose or fail, and intervene in as much of their children's lives as they can. This means not allowing their children to fail or succeed on their own. The rise of the cell phone is often blamed for the rise of helicopter parenting as it resembles the "world's longest umbilical cord". Kids can easily call with a problem making parents vulnerable to wanting to solve their issues.
Parent Investor verses Helicopter Parent - What is a Parent Investor?
There have been several cons maligned against helicopter parenting such as encouraging spoiled behavior, instilling fear of taking chances, replacing independence in favor of dependency to solve one's problems and making it difficult for older children to develop future intimate relationships. However, in a recent research study on college students whose parents fit the description of doing helicopter parenting, it found that these students had grown into capable, well adjusted college students and were "more engaged in learning and reported greater satisfaction with their colleges".
A Parent Investor is one that invests in their child's life every day. Every day a Parent Investor invests time, love, guidance, commitment and energy into their children's lives.
So what's the difference between a Parent Investor and a Helicopter Parent?
A meaningful Parent Investor chooses to impact their child's life by empowering them with skills that will enable them to have long term social success in life.
One of the skills Parent Investors learn is to promote resiliency and optimistic thinking which is essential in dealing with any life challenges. Helping them learn self-reliance is a key factor in this.
Helicopter parents overlook self-reliance by robbing their children of learning what it is to stand up and roll with the punches of life.
Another thing Parent Investors do is love their kids enough to have to endure witnessing their children suffer through failures that may include many disappointments.
By over protecting and shielding your children to a fault, Helicopter Parents deny their children the chance to learn how to survive a challenge and the ability to counter the fear of failure.
Parent Investors are involved in their children's lives as too are those who wear the hat of Helicopter Parents. It's all about balance - weighing the right level of support of when to step in and when to let the child learn to fail or succeed on their own. The question is which kind of parent do you choose to be??
HELPING CHILDREN BUILD FRIENDSHIPS
What do you do when you don't like your child's choice of friends? I have a 12 year-old daughter who has a friend that I feel is a bad influence on her. Her friend has a punk haircut and wears strange clothes. I'm afraid if I banned her from this particular friend, she'll only want to spend more time with her.
Your question is one that I often get so it indicates that it is a concern among many parents. I agree with you about banning the friend that will only lead to more involvement. It's like making the forbidden fruit be more appealing and we don't want that to happen. Also, many of these "undesirable" friendships are short-lived. Allowing these to run its course will often be more effective than actively trying to stop it. A more effective approach, is to discuss your concerns with your daughter and find out why she chooses this certain friend. It helps you understand what the attraction is. As parents, we also have to make an effort to get to know our child's friends before we pass judgments. Sometimes appearances aren't always what they seem. A punk haircut doesn't always mean that she doesn't have some positive qualities about her.
However, if the friend is someone that has engaged in antisocial or dangerous or unacceptable acts, then I believe that as a parent, you have the responsibility to discourage and stop this association.
TEEN STRESS: OBSERVATION ON A STRESS-FILLED GENERATION
Recently, a new study was released that found that high school and college students were five times higher in dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues compared to youth of the same age who were studied during the Great Depression period. These findings confirmed what many have already recognized that today’s youth are struggling with many stresses that are greatly affecting their lives. Some speculate that our culture now has increasingly focused on the external factors such as looks, status, and material items that have caused an uptick in greater anxiety and depression among this current generation of children and young adults.
I believe that there is a tremendous amount of pressure on today’s youth to succeed. I see it all the time in the way children perceive how they have to be successful from academics to sports to how many “friends” that can get on Facebook. There is no doubt that we live in a faster paced society than those students studied back in the 30s, however, today’s children get bombarded from all fronts. They are dealing with higher divorce rates among families, more single parent households, pressure to “do it all” to compete with similar students to get into top universities, exposure to more violence and sexual stimuli through movies, songs, and computer games, and technology that tends to speed up everything in this complex, world around them. Back in the 30s, the keys to happiness to most children was found in family and other relationships. Now, the overriding belief is that material objects or possessions are what leads to the path of happiness.
So what can we do about this? The solution lies in teaching emotional resiliency to today’s youth. We need to help them deal and manage with stress differently. We need to help them realize that living in a complex society is more than chasing after external “pots of gold”. It’s helping them turn inward to learn how to love themselves, which can lead to making wiser choices. It’s learning how to drop the shackles of false attachments to things that that will not lead to happiness. It’s about turning the apple cart over and teaching pro-active skills of emotional and social approaches before a tsunami of stress-filled, anxiety ridden children become known as Generation D (depression).
BULLYING: GIRLS VS GIRLS
Last week I was called by my daughter's second grade teacher about behavior that she is doing especially during recess. Apparently, my daughter and some of her friends were purposively excluding other girls from joining what they called their "hip hop group". This group makes up dances, which they perform for others during recess. When I asked my daughter about it, she exclaimed that her friend Ashley was the one who was the leader behind this exclusion and that it was not her idea. My daughter's teacher is calling this incident a form of bullying even though my daughter was not the ringleader in this. Is my daughter just as responsible as her friend who was really the "bully"?
The sad thing is that good kids, probably like your daughter, know better about going along with these kinds of popularity games for fear of being singled out and thrown out of the group. Sometimes it seems easier to do nothing than it does to do the right thing. The other unfortunate thing is that kids that go along with a bully (in this case her friend Ashley) just adds to the bully's power by giving the victim the illusion that the bully has peer support. I would suggest that you help your daughter with the empathetic concept of "being in someone else's' shoes" and ask her how she would have felt if she was the one being excluded from the hip hop group. Would she have felt angry? Or sad? Also, help her understand the qualities of what real friends are. See if her friend Ashley has any of those key friend qualities of loyalty, empathy, kindness, compassion, or thoughtfulness. Most often, bullies don't have those qualities. Your daughter may not have been the ringleader in this but by condoning this kind of bullying behavior of exclusion, she, too, is bullying through association against another person(s).
DEVELOPING EMPATHY IN YOUR CHILD
In your book, The Best Investment, you write that empathy is a social skill that can help one understand others feelings and point of view. Is empathy something you are born with or is it something that can be learned?
Empathy is the ability to identify and understand another's feelings, situation, or motives. The answer to the question is yes to both. Have you ever noticed when you are around happy people, you begin to feel the same way? The reason for this is that our brains are wired to imitate, or mirror, another's emotional state. Due to this, we are born with a biological tendency toward empathy. Empathy is also a social skill that can be learned and children can learn this by you modeling empathetic behavior towards others and to them. A child's empathy skills grow stronger as a result of your good example. When you help your child experience the feelings of others, you enable them to understand compassion and caring, the by products of empathy. Empathy is the quintessential "people skill"!
SHY VS OUTGOING SIBLINGS
I have two children who have totally different personalities. My oldest son is very outgoing and interacts well with his classmates and friends. The youngest boy is shy and does not make friends easily. How can I help my youngest son with his social ability?
First, I would like to commend you for wanting to help your son gain some social skills. The good news is that social skills can be learned easily. Your son may be one who does not like to take risks socially because he doesn't know what to do in a social setting. Shy children often don't know how to start conversations with other children. One suggestion is to practice communication and conversational skills by playing "Game Host" with you first being the host and "interviewing" him on his interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes. By modeling questions and your responses to his answers, he can be taught ways to establish rapport with others through learning thoughtful questions and comments. Take turns playing this game as he becomes more masterful with this social skill.