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Friday, May 28, 2010

Doing Too Much

 A chapter in Edward Hallowell’s The Childhood Roots to Adult Happiness is entitled “Doing Too Much, The Great Mistake Good Parents Make.”  This chapter title drew me in, not only because as a parent I want to avoid the mistake, but also because it reminds me of a recurring dialog that I have with parents.

Parent: “I’m helping my son study for his science test, but sometimes it seems like I’m doing more work than he is.  How do I know if I’m helping or hurting?”

Me: “The answer rests within the question.  If you feel as though you care more, you probably do.  If you feel as though you are working harder, you probably are.”

Parent: “But, if I don’t help him, he might not do well on the test!”

I know that parents have a hard time letting their children fail.  I know I do.  However, research has examined that one of the most important factors in achieving success is EFFORT. 

Therefore, if you’re putting in more work than your children, you’re stealing their opportunity to develop the intrinsic motivation to learn and succeed.  They don’t have to work hard because you are! 

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I believe in active participation.  I believe in teaching good study habits.  I believe in being a positive role model for hard work.  The homework challenge I suggested a couple of posts ago is a great way to model this hard work. 

Helping develop positive study habits is a delicate balance.  I know it’s hard to know if you’re doing too much.  However, if the thought crosses your mind, “I feel like I care more than he or she does,” then it may be time to step back and let your child step up.  


cindy said...

Totally agree with this. In fact, I think this issue is getting worse and worse and I was really happy when the principal of my son's school sent home a letter addressing this very issue. I'd be interested to know how/why this has changed so drastically since we were children. I bet you could count on one hand the number of people in our generation who had parent involvement with their school work. It is likely a combination of more homework and pressure and parents responding to a different culture. Any way you cut it, we do our kids a huge disservice by "helping" too much.

Cindy Shortt said...

I'd love to read the copy of the letter your principal sent home. It's a problem and it's only getting worse.