Helicopter parents. We’ve all met them. They’re those mums and dads who take an active (read: excessive) interest in everything their kids do.
But, they’re not the only pushy parents at the school gate. Now, lawnmower parents are here to make their mark.
The term was coined by an anonymous writer on the We Are Teachers blog and is defined as “parents who go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle or failure.
“Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place.”
The writer, an educator, described their own brush with a ‘lawnmower parent’ when they were called to the office to collect something from a pupil’s dad.
Assuming it would be something important the student needed like their lunch or an inhaler, the teacher was surprised to see the child’s father holding an insulated water bottle.
“Remy kept texting me that she needed [the bottle]. I texted back, ‘Don’t they have water fountains at your school?’, but I guess she just had to have it out of the bottle,” the father said sheepishly.
The writer went on to explain that though lawnmower parents’ intentions are likely well meaning, they could actually be doing more harm than good.
“I think that most lawnmower parents come from a good place,” they wrote.
“But in raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids.
“We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle. A generation who panics or shuts down at the mere idea of failure.”
The difference between ‘helicopter parents’ and ‘lawnmower parents’ is that while the former hover over their kids ready to swoop in and rescue their children whenever an issue arises, the latter bypass the hovering stage.
Instead, they ‘mow’ or ‘plough’ right through to sort a problem before it has even been raised.
And some experts are concerned about the message this is sending children.
“If you say, ‘Oh, I took care of this for you,’ it inadvertently gives that message of ‘you can’t do this yourself, you can’t succeed’,” Stephanie Samar, a clinical psychologist at the Mood Disorders Center of the Child Mind Institute, told ABC News.
“That can lead to other problematic things – maybe increased anxiety, low distressed tolerance – (a) discomfort that comes with having conflict helplessness about heir situation.”
Explaining that lawnmower parents often focus on short-term goals, for example a parent calling a teacher because they don’t agree with the grade their child got, Stephanie went on to warn that this can hinder children from developing coping skills.
“When parents are removing obstacles for their child they are really taking away that opportunity for kids to learn those problem-solving techniques,” she said.
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