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Hooray For Lifeskills - Integrity

January 06, 2020
By Lauren Conway

Hooray for Lifeskills! Happy New Year!  When thinking about our next Lifeskill of Initiative and what we can AND can not do to help our students develop this skill, I was reminded of a hot topic from a few years back about “Helicopter or Snowplowing Parents”.  A helicopter parent is thought of as a mom or dad who  appears to micromanage every aspect of their children’s lives, hence they’re seen as hovering over their child like a helicopter.  This phenomenon could describe parents of younger children who often swoop in to “fix” a problem their preschooler is having; whether their struggling with a puzzle piece or putting on their coat. Snowplowing parents often take it a step further by plowing through any obstacle standing in the way of a child’s success.  For example, with older children, you may hear of snowplowing parents intervening by calling college professors when their child received a less than desirable grade.  Whatever the hovering act may be, most are done out of love and desire to protect their children from discomfort, challenge or failure.  Although this may be interpreted as helping, over protecting our children can actually have a negative effect in the long run.  In terms of initiative, how can we expect our children to develop that “fire in their belly”, or desire to do something on their own, if we are constantly jumping in and doing things for them?

So, what can we do to help our children develop this inner-driven Lifeskill?  Here are some ways you can support the Lifeskill of Initiative at home:

It’s Ok To Make Mistakes - Mistakes or a bit of pain or struggle can be our friend.  Backing up and allowing your child to experience these feelings can help them develop skills such as problem solving and resiliency, which in turn help them to develop initiative.  

Choices, Choices, Choices - Giving your child choices and letting them make their own decisions (within reason), will allow them to feel in control and help motivate them to take initiative and do things on their own.

Show Them The Way - It’s time to do an initiative self-check.  Do you do things that need to be done on a daily basis, or do you tend to procrastinate and put them off.  Be careful.....they’re watching you!

Initiative Heroes - Talk with your child about various community individuals or agencies that are taking the initiative to help others.  Soup kitchens, the ASPCA or local civic leaders can provide good examples of citizens stepping up to help solve community problems.  

Helping children develop the Lifeskill of Initiative is no easy task.  Initiative is different from some of our other Lifeskills, in that it is prompted by an internal source.  However challenging it may be, initiative is a Lifeskill we must encourage our children to practice, or else how will anything ever get done?!  

~Lauren Conway, School Counselor