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Put On Your Coat

“He goes outside with no coat on”. The other aunt replied, “I know, sometimes it’s really cold. I have to tell him to put on his coat several times. He gets so angry. “ I sniggled to myself, because it was just a few days ago, that their seventeen-year-old “baby” walked out of the foster home without a coat.

It was a bitter night, and ice was on the ground. The foster parent looked at me, and asked, “Should I tell him to put on his coat.” My reply was, it’s cold out there; when he gets cold he will come back and get a coat”. It wasn’t a full minute before he walked back in and got his coat. We agreed with him that it was cold outside.

This was probably a rare time that he suffered a natural consequence as a result of his behavior. No parent or guardian prevented him from experiencing the outcome of a foolish decision. Unlike the aunts’ experience, this was a positive experience for him and us. He had a little more pride as he walked outside with his coat.

I hear parents ordering every step older children make. There is lots of bickering and arguing, to keep children from suffering natural consequences as a result of their behavior. Consequences that aren’t deathly, just uncomfortable. The bigger problem is, that parental hovering undermines children’s self-confidence. Children won’t develop the skills they need in order to live responsibly as adults. Learning these skills as an adult is much more difficult, and there is much more at risk.

Parents, there is a way that seems right, but the end is destruction. Of course, we want to prevent children from every terrible thing, and even from slightly terrible things, but is it the best thing to do? The long-term outcome is that lessons that could easily be learned in childhood now must be learned the hard way in adulthood.

There is a difference between helping and hovering. Helping is giving children support when it is asked for and needed. Hovering is being close, too close, waiting to prevent the child from experiencing any failure.

Are you helping or hovering? Let me know what you are doing now.

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