Helicopter Helpers

Helicopter parents beware! You may be doing more harm than good!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Little Ben is taking FOREVER to finish his homework. As a caring parent, what do you do? Helping might SEEM like the best option. But when and how to help?

Jari-Erik Nurmi and colleagues at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland studied how to better help kids learn. A group of elementary schoolers were the test subjects. Teachers assessed each child’s ability to persevere at a given task. Mothers’ involvement method, from helping, to guiding, or even monitoring, were also assessed.

The results? When mothers give a child more autonomy, teachers see better task-persistence! Supporting — verses outright HELPING with specific problems — gives kids the opportunity to practice persistence.

So, moms – does this mean you can kick back with a margarita while Benny toils away at the books? Well, not exactly. It’s best to strike a balance between promoting independence and offering support when needed.

But, hey, I won’t tell Ben what’s in that coffee cup if you don’t!