View Full Version : Rescue parenting that doesn't work

09-21-2005, 07:18 PM
From Principal to Parents
Issue #1 - Sept/99 - St. Pius X School

As children grow up, they encounter many difficulties, disappointments and negative situations. As the on-looking parent, we have a choice to view these somewhat perilous times as “opportunities for growth” or “tragedies to their self-esteem.” We also can step in immediately and rescue or sit back and allow our children to problem-solve themselves. We will call the difficulty-the Stimulus and what we do-the Reaction. There should be time between the Stimulus and the Reaction and this time can be referred to as the Gap. Unless there’s a severe loss of blood or a failure to breath, usually there is ample time in the Gap to respond appropriately. How, we as parents, respond can make or break a situation and allow us to teach, discipline appropriately or ruin a relationship.
We cannot predict the type of situations or the amount of stimuli we will experience as parents or that our children will encounter. So we really cannot be too prepared or overly protective in order to handle all situations. Therefore, we need to start over and give our children the values and morals and equip them to handle any situation. Values such as; self-discipline, self-esteem, integrity, honesty, responsibility and compassion, just to name a few, will be necessary to function. The question is, How do we give them these values as early as possible and allow them to acquire the personal skills to use for all situations? This is the crucial question and the essence of the article.
As our children begin a new chapter in their lives, we all hope and also pray that they are successful. Parents who have worked on their child’s character are less anxious and have confidence that these new experiences will bring positive results. New chapters are new opportunities in which they learn to adapt to a new teacher, new classmates, a new job, different rules and roles. Believe it or not, they are more flexible than their parents think and can cope more readily. We, as adults, must not view a changing situation through “adult eyes”, but actually from the “child’s eyes.” Let them make wise choices based on all of the stimuli available. As Steven Vannoy states in his book-“The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children”,
“A big part of the gift of responsibility to me is learning to make wise choices. The ability to make smart little choices inevitably leads children to trust themselves to make more important choices about the big issues of life, later.”
One character development muscle that can be exercised early is the value of self-respect through choices. Children of 4-5 years old can make choices about what books to read, the clothing to wear, what foods to eat and can develop with guidance a strong sense by following their own choices.
At times, they may be wrong while obviously at other times, they could be right. But the values are in the process and commitment. They may receive negative consequences, but we must not interfere in that process, but merely be a spectator and ask forward focus questions in order for them to learn from their mistakes. From the book,” Good Families Don’t Just Happen”, Prats further states;
“Parents too often rescue their children from negative consequences.
Yet, if we want them to learn responsibility and appropriate conduct,
sometimes we have to let them feel the pain.”
The pain can come in different forms and at school, it can be a detention, suspension or extra work in order that a staff member can teach discipline. The pain will result in learning through the logical consequences and appropriate sanctions.
I agree with Joseph and Catherine Musco Garcia-Prats when they say;
“We view discipline as a way to teach our children appropriate behaviour with our ultimate goal being self-discipline.”
Because that ultimate goal of self-discipline, is really one of the gifts we want our children to receive well before they leave grade school.
“Discipline yourself so others won’t have to”, is often a credo coming out of the mouths of many adult leaders in our schools and communities. Students with self-discipline are the ones that are trusted, who get advantages and are chosen to do lead roles, because adults know that it will be done right. Children with self-discipline don’t have to be told twice, forever hounded or reminded to get down to a task. However, the child without self-discipline is the one who forgets books, has homework incomplete and causes classrooms to be disrupted and the students inevitably become disadvantaged. They often lack the organizational skills and perseverance to complete a task and force the hand of the teacher to enact some form of discipline.
So my advice is simple. Parents, REFUSE to come to the rescue of your sons and daughters at school or at home. Although your rescue attempt may be a short solution, it is hurting them in the long run. Look at the long-term and remote effects on their character. Don’t do so much for your children! From the book, “Good Families Don’t Just Happen”, Prats explains;
"Doing too much for our kids doesn’t benefit them in the long run.”
When they caused the problem-Stimulus-,go into the Gap and think about an appropriate consequence, have lots of dialogue about the sanctions and monitor the aftermath consistently. Empower your child by asking Forward-Focused Questions such as;
“How are you going to fix that problem? OR What solutions do you think would be appropriate? OR What can you do to help out the situation?
This allows the child to take ownership of the problem and the rescue-parent can stand back and allow problem-solving to occur, growth to happen and let the child be part of the solution.
Children will learn to be more responsible for their personal belongings if they realize Mom and Dad won’t bail them out each time they lose or ruin something. Children will become more responsible for their actions if they know that rescuing parents are not there to save their poor child from a consequence. Children will have more respect for authority figures when they see their role models agreeing with the school and allowing consequences to happen.
You show true love to your child when you accept the fact that they make mistakes, accept the consequences and show unconditional love to them. You show true love when you give them the gifts of responsibility, self-respect, self-esteem and allow their input on decisions. You show true love when you let them fall, pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes and continue through life’s hills and valleys. You show true love by keeping your expectations high and guiding them to reach their goals. You show true love by developing their character as human beings and with that correct compass they can climb any mountain and conquer any valley.
In life we will all experience HILLS and VALLEYS, however the greatest fruit comes from the valleys.

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