Let’s Rethink How We Lead Kids – Prescriptive vs. Descriptive


What happens to our kids when we over-parent them? How can we improve the way we are leading our kids?


Many kids today have had everything mapped out for them by an adult. Recitals, practices, video games, playground time, lessons, phone games. Even Legos play sets now have diagrams of what to build and how to build it. We’re removing the need for kids to have their own imagination and creativity.

Suggestion: Instead of prescribing what they should do next, try “describing.” Describe an outcome or goal, and let them figure out how to reach it with their own ingenuity. Kids need adults to set meaningful goals but we do too much when we give them each step to take. This is where they can begin to develop some of their own ambition and creativity. Remember—if a kid creates it, he owns it. Students support what they help create.

As students move through transitions in their life—from elementary to middle school, from middle to high school, from high school to college and even career, we often prevent kids from developing the life skills they’ll need in those junctions. Relationship expert Michelle Givertz, at Cal State Chico has studied hundreds of parent-young adult pairs and found that age-inappropriate over-parenting leads to depression-prone aimless kids (and ultimately adults) with “diminished self-efficacy,” lacking the ability to put a plan in place to achieve goals.


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