Monday, June 26, 2017

Avoid Over Parenting: Four Lessons Learned from Gist--The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids

Last week I had the opportunity to hear an interview at my church with Dr. Tim Johanson, a child pediatrician. Tim is the co-author of Gist, a book on parenting, which he wrote with a child psychologist. You can watch the full interview here. Dr. Johanson spoke about the stress and pressures that parents feel today to be perfect and identified four problem areas that can lead to over parenting kids: over involvement, over affirmation, over indulgence, and over protection. I found the information shared to be very valuable and think that any parent, grandparent or educator who works with kids (and therefore indirectly their parents) would find the interview and book helpful. Though not directly addressed, many of his tips tie directly to parenting issues around kids and technology.

Tim's first suggestion was to not be an over involved parent, micromanaging your kids' lives. This can lead to parental exhaustion and your kids feeling a lack of autonomy and oppression. He suggested only going to 3/4 of your kids' games, events, and concerts, etc. rather. Let them experience things on their own rather than always be there at each event. Allow them tell you how something went and relate it through their own lens versus you always being present. 

The second tip shared was to not over affirm your kids, which can lead to the creation of a false self. As a result, kids don't develop an accurate ability to self assess which could even lead to depression. Tim suggested being honest, in his words, "they will eventually find out... Don't tell your kids they are gifted are exceptional when they aren't." A phrase he used was that "when gifted becomes expected average becomes defective." 

Being cautious about over indulgence was the third tip shared. He said a parent's job is to prepare our kids for life. Don't give in to parental pressure to get everything for your kid and instead ask yourself, "Will this grow them in ways to make them life ready?" Don't create a sense of entitlement or give in to pressure from other parents to get everything for your children.

The fourth and final tip that Tim shared was to not over protect our kids. I was familiar with the term helicopter parent--a parent who swoops in and takes care of problems for their kids instead of letting them learn from their mistakes. A new term he shared was a snowplow parent--one who basically clears the path of all problems so their kid won't ever experience them. Parents are overprotective because they don't want life to be difficult for their kids, but Tim suggested that this should be a mindset change for parents. We need to see adversities as a way for our kids to grow.

As Tim mentioned in the beginning of his interview, our children don't come with instruction manuals. Often times we certainly wish they did! I find hearing advice and expertise from other parents who share their wisdom and knowledge from their experience raising children to be so beneficial. I think you will too, I would encourage you to watch the full interview.

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