Are We Raising A Nation of Wimpy Kids?

Parents Efforts to Build Self-Esteem
are yielding Wimpy Kids

Much of the methodology parents employ to prepare their children for adult life paradoxically leaves them dependent and in need of training wheels well into their 20’s and 30’s.

We’re raising wimpy kids

A child was designed to have a parent, and while it is important to keep your child safe, we cannot take the bumps and bruises out of their life and expect that this will give them good coping skills and self-esteem.

In our efforts to build their self-esteem, we give every child a sports trophy, mark them pass or fail and teach them they can be anything and have everything – we’re raising a nation of wimpy kids.

In a July 25, 2012 presentation hosted by Mark Hobbins, FamilyIQ founder, Dr. Jared Balmer, a contributor to the FamilyIQ’s clinical advisory board; member of the Joint Commission Youth Advisory Council; and leader in the field of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, advises parents in his The Four Headed Monster webinar:

“if we eliminate competition in the hopes of building self-esteem – we have failed because self-esteem cannot be built-in the absence of achievement.”

What sane parent would actually confess to raising wimpy kids?

I do! I’ve been there, done that . . . I confess I did the deed. And all along I thought I was helping. I became a momma bear when our son was diagnosed learning disabled with attention issues despite an off the map IQ. I called it advocating, which is crucial for learning disabled kids, what I didn’t learn was how to set boundaries and teach with consequences. I became a helicopter-mom and nearly blew my Nag Hag gasket routinely exasperated living through the teen years with an irresponsible teen. If I’d only known then what I know now . . . thankfully we’re both coming around and I wasn’t even inclined to sleep on his dorm floor when he headed off to college!

Laser-focused on their child’s success helicopter-parents hover around and swoop in on a moment’s notice whenever their child is frustrated, upset, or even just disappointed. Their heavily scheduled children rarely have free time; and when they do boredom quickly sets-in as they have no ability to entertain themselves having always depended on their parents for amusement. The lengths parents go to in raising wimpy kids is regularly newsworthy: few years back, helicopter-parents made headlines appearing in their kid’s college dorms and now they’re even testing the limits of their adult children’s work place.

And recently a Pennsylvania helicopter-mom was charged with six felonies and could face up to 42 years in prison or a $90,000 fine for hacking into the district’s school computer to change her daughter’s failing grade from an F to an M for “medical” and her son’s 98 to 99. What kind of role modeling is she sharing with her children? And what kind of wimpy kids is she raising?

Well intentioned as it may appear,” chides Dr. Balmer, the net effect is making kids more fragile and that may be why adolescents are breaking down in record numbers.”

Raised never having to fend for themselves, it is no wonder that at the first sign of a struggle, problem or roadblock, these wimpy kids, devoid of life’s developmental tools, just don’t have the resources to find their own solutions. With no experience in crisis resolution, or taking responsibility for their own choices, wimpy kids simply go to what they know – parental rescue for every critical confrontation.

The flip-side of helicopter-parenting is free-range parenting

Free-range parents let their child navigate the world pretty much unsupervised in the belief that boundaries are to be avoided. And yet boundaries are a critical factor in a child’s development. How can a child form their own identity without a reference for, role models, coaching, and guidance?

Boundaries are important to allow children to feel safe and secure in the knowledge that someone is paying attention. Having structure in a child’s life allows them to safely experience some of life’s bumps and struggles, they’re not out of control and have learned what’s appropriate.

The extreme parenting styles of free-range parenting or helicopter-parenting are ultimately provoking extreme levels of anxiety in today’s adolescents with devastating results. In Dr. Balmer’s webinar, “The Four Headed Monster”, he cites a report in the AMA Journal of September 2008 that states, “following a steady decline of the past two decades, we see an 18% increase in suicide rates in youth under 20 years of age between 2003 and 2004.” and goes on to illustrate that the way we parent is having a profound effect on our off-spring. [to view Dr. Balmer’s “The Four Headed Monster” Opt-In on the form below]

Dr. Balmer asks, “Are we raising a nation of wimpy kids?” and goes on to suggest that inappropriate parenting styles and along with the overdependence on social media have potential negative implications for today’s youth:

  • Over inflated ego leads to narcissism
  • Difficulty in coping when under stress
  • Difficulty dealing with rejection and disappointment
  • RESULT: increased mood disorders (dysthmia, depression, anxiety)

Understanding your parenting style to avoid raising wimpy kids

We parents each have a predictable pattern of parenting – do you know your parenting style? Your kids do (wimpy kids or not) and they know how to manipulate it – they can detect when both parents aren’t on the same page. Your parenting style influences the emotional health and social competence of your children. There’s no such thing as perfect parenting, but the parent who ignores the opportunity to learn more perhaps needs to realize that they don’t know what they don’t know and it’s just not fair to your kids.

Unknowingly, when dealing with our children, we as parents walk into many traps. The problem is that we don’t realize that they’re traps, because our interaction with our children works on a moment-to-moment basis. Teaching through consequences  is a very natural way for children to learn; however, children don’t have good impulse control and often have difficulty in predicting the consequences of their actions – that’s why they need parents with reasonable boundaries and great parenting skills.

Parenting today is more challenging than ever before, but there is also more information available to give parents the skills and tools to empower them to make a deep connection, develop a lasting bond and raise responsible kids.

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