There have been a few articles about “Snowplough” parenting in the last weeks after the College bribery scandal in the USA where 50 people were charged with fraud relating to College admission. To be an advocate for your child, rather than a rescuer is a fine balance. Given the number of issues and problems a child faces on their journey to adulthood, it is not surprising that the line sometimes is blurred. But are we creating a generation of young people who have so little experience of failure that we are not setting them up for success as adults? As the New York Times article states:
“Learning to solve problems, take risks and overcome frustration are crucial life skills, many child development experts say, and if parents don’t let their children encounter failure, the children don’t acquire them. When a 3-year-old drops a dish and breaks it, she’s probably going to try not to drop it the next time. When a 20-year-old sleeps through a test, he’s probably not going to forget to set his alarm again”
It is through facing and overcoming adversity, supported but not rescued by caring parents and teachers, that our students will develop the resilience they will rely on in adulthood. They need this to tackle the challenges they will encounter with the confidence and perseverance that leads to success.
At school, students, on a daily basis, have opportunities to succeed and fail. When a student offers an idea in a class they risk being right or wrong. Teachers want students to be vocal and participate in class discussions and activities to test their ideas and get feedback in a supportive environment. In another way, it is far better to hear a student say that they will work harder and find strategies to improve – than complain they are in a Maths group or class they don’t like. As Mr Parsons our Deputy Head always says to his Maths students- “I want you to struggle this year.” Or as another Deputy Head in the SMH article says "'When you were teaching them to ride a bike, they wobbled. Let them wobble'."
Sport is one obvious area where young people get to fail and learn to lose graciously. Not making the team or being selected in a team without close friends are ideal learning opportunities. This happens across a range of co-curricular areas, camping and outdoor education experiences and social interactions.
There are times when your heart breaks for your child and the situation they have found themselves in. It takes strong parenting not to rush to save the day. To wobble, struggle and sometimes fail are all part of life’s tapestry- and learning to manage these moments set students up for success.