If you’re a parent, it’s hard to watch your child struggle. You hurt for them no matter how old they are, and you want to help them. But there’s a certain point where it’s harmful to help them. While freeing their path of obstacles might make things easier for them now, it could set them up for larger problems later on. They have to learn for themselves to navigate the obstacles that life throws at them.
Help Them Be Independent
Don’t be afraid to let your child fail. That might be a hard thing to do since you don’t want to see them fail. You might still call their high school teacher if your student fails a test and keep track of their important doctors’ appointments. But give them the freedom to fail every once in a while, and get back up. That doesn’t mean you will never help them but let them adapt and navigate so they can be prepared. Life will be difficult, and you won’t be there for them forever.
When your child gets a bad grade, teach them how to talk to the teacher themselves instead of doing it. For kids on their way to college, show them how to make their own appointments. They might miss a few appointments, but that’s a learning opportunity. In real life, there are consequences for missing important meetings. It’s better to learn this now when the consequences aren’t as bad. For your college-bound kids, encourage them to be invested in their education. Maybe you’ll help them financially a little, but not pay for everything. For example, your student might need to borrow money for some expenses. It’s possible to take out private student loans without a cosigner, so encourage your child to look into this process.
Change Your Focus
Your goal isn’t to help your children avoid all of life’s difficulties. Instead, you should help them get through hardships. Think of hard moments as opportunities to teach. If your child is stressed, you probably are as well. But don’t just go with the easy way out. For example, standardized test scores for college admissions can be stressful for many students. They are an indication of how well your child might do with college-level work, but they don’t define your student’s intelligence or worth. If your student is ashamed of their results, help them see things in perspective. These results won’t matter once a child graduates from college.
Make Decisions About College Together
Talk to your child about what’s important to them in a college. It’s ultimately their education, so they’ll work harder if it’s a school they chose to attend. There are lots of factors that go into the college decision, and it’s not always about the school that has a better academic reputation. For example, think about factors like location, distance, size, and cost. If you’re thinking about getting a federal student loan to cover college tuition and expenses, try to start by checking parent plus loan interest rates for example.
What you want and what your student wants might differ, so have conversations, and don’t do all the talking. Listen to their preferences so you can narrow down your search and make the best decision for everyone.