Remote Learning Has Turned Me Into a Helicopter Parent — How Do I Take a Step Back?

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The Covid-19 pandemic has shifted many of our jobs — and the job of mom or dad is certainly no exception, with many taking on the role of teacher amid remote learning. Whether you feel like you're doing too much or too little as a parent to help your child succeed in the virtual pandemic world, we asked family physician and resilience expert, Dr. Deborah Gilboa (a.k.a. Dr. G), to give her advice on parenting your way through it.

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Question: "I feel like remote schooling has turned me into a helicopter parent and is hurting my children's growth. I end up making their to-do lists and even find myself listening in on their classes to make sure we didn’t miss anything. How can I take a step back and allow my children to figure it out on their own, without allowing them to fall behind?"
– Liz M., viewer via email

Answer: "I gotta tell you, It's not only parents. I've heard from women who say, 'I'm listening to my partner's business meetings, and I want to tell him, 'You shouldn't speak that way,' or 'You should handle it this way.' It's out of this abundance of empathy and love. It's really not coming from any place that's mean or controlling or critical. It's, 'I want things to be good for you. This is hard right now, and I want things to be easier.' But, for parents in particular, I really want to remind you — what's school for, this year in particular? And for elementary school, one of the big things to remember is elementary school is really important for reading. You have to learn to read, because by 3rd or 4th grade, you have to be able to read in order to learn — so they gotta practice their reading. And it's meant to keep them with a curiosity and a love of learning. Honestly, I don't think this is the year to worry about grades and report cards in elementary school. I'm not sure it ever is, but definitely [not] this year. If kids can come out of this year — whatever it looked like for them — reading and still liking to learn, that's a win. I really think it is. One resilience skill we can all use when we get worried about something is to actually say, 'Okay, what if that thing I'm worried about does happen?' So, what if they do fall behind? Well, if they fall behind, their grades might suffer. Okay, if their grades might suffer — given the grade they're in, whatever it is — is that actually a big deal? And it might be; I'm not saying it definitely isn't. But you are an expert in your kid's journey, so you can say, 'Is it a big deal?' And if it isn't a big deal, you can be like, 'Okay, they might fall behind. But I want them to still love learning. That's what we're going to focus on.' All this mom needs is to remind herself of her purpose. Her purpose is to help her kids prepare themselves — not to help her kids pass that quiz in math this year." 

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