No one ever said that parenting is easy. And frankly, if anyone has, they probably didn’t have kids. Every parent-child dynamic is different, and every kid needs different things from their parents. But there are some things common to the developmental stage of adolescence, and subsequent parental reactions, that should be very carefully navigated.
Over the next 5 weeks, I will discuss the most common parenting mistakes, and how to stop making them today.
Week 1 | Helicoptering
During adolescence, children slowly become more and more independent from their families—and this is developmentally a positive thing. Adolescents might want to spend more time with their friends, rather than their parents, in a variety of contexts from text messaging, hanging out on the weekends outside of the home, and even having get-togethers with larger groups of friends. It’s normal to feel somewhat anxious about what your kid is doing when you aren’t there watching, but getting so worried about this, and refusing to let them do things alone or without your opinion can have a negative impact on the child.
“Helicopter parenting” refers to just this; in this scenario, a parent may want to be involved in every second of their child lives, primarily to make sure they are safe. In doing this, a parent can lead their child to believe that they themselves are incapable of doing things alone, and learn by example that the world is a scary place that they cannot navigate. Many kids develop anxiety as a result of this phenomena. So in sum, let your kids make their own mistakes, within reason, and explore life on their own.
Start Today Tip:
Ask yourself if this resonates with you. Be mindful of your own anxieties. Are you actually parenting for the benefit of your child or are you doing it to mitigate your own anxiety?
Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Ridgewood and Hoboken, NJ. He has extensive clinical and research experience spanning individuals of all ages, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He specializes in men’s issues, couple’s counseling, and relationship problems. His therapeutic approach focuses on providing support and practical feedback to help patients effectively address personal challenges. He integrates complementary modalities and techniques to offer a personalized approach tailored to each patient. He has been trained in cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, schema-focused, and emotionally focused therapy, and has also been involved with research projects throughout his career, including two National Institute of Mental Health-funded studies. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Jersey Psychological Association, Northeast Counties Association of Psychologists, New York State Psychological Association, The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, the International OCD Foundation, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB) and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.