Do Not Protect Your Gifted Students Too Much

As parents, we want our kids to be happy. It is painful to watch them experience the bumps of life. We also worry about their self-esteem and try to protect it. But BEWARE!! Too much protection can be harmful.

Many parents fight to get their kids into more challenging academic classes because it is understood that challenge is healthy. It is interesting then that parents often protect their students from challenge in other aspects of their lives, such as dealing with uncomfortable situations, learning to work with people who have different ideas, earning money to purchase something they want, doing without a lot of material things, or learning to fill their own free time. We don’t allow children to struggle because we are afraid it will damage their self-esteem. Parents who constantly hover over their children, trying to make the world just right for them are called “helicopter parents.” 

The term helicopter parents began at the early elementary school level, but has now extended to high school, college, and has even included parents getting involved in their post-graduate children’s salary negotiations. Many parents talk several times a day with their college or post-college children. These well-meaning parents deprive their children of the confidence-building skills that come with learning to overcome struggle. Children who are consistently “rescued” cannot develop confidence to solve their own problems.

It is felt that parents who shelter and provide too much for their children may cause some of our most gifted young people to lack strength of character, commitment, and coping skills for even the mundane first job. Rather than take unglamorous jobs for relatively low pay beginning in their mid-teens, well-intentioned parents choose to provide enrichment activities, travel, and social interaction. As a result, kids expect ever-increasing cash outlays without responsibility. This can lead to a feeling of self-entitlement, which in turn raises issues with ethics and social responsibility.

So stop trying to solve all your children’s problems. Just as you demand challenging academic classes for your kids, also demand that they accept personal challenges in life.

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