No one likes a micromanager--and that includes kids! Adults can understand how frustrating and damaging a micromanager can be, yet most parents micromanage their children heavily and fail to see why kids grow up to be resentful in the aftermath.
Why micromanaging your kids creates unsuccessful adults
Raising capable kids is actually a lot like being a good manager. You need to provide direction and accountability, but you also need to give your kids room to learn, grow, make mistakes, and succeed. Creating goals, guidelines, and expectations for children is only the first half the battle--and many would argue the easiest half!. The second half is giving kids the freedom to figure out how to achieve their goals on their own--which can sometimes involve making mistakes along the way.
While it’s important not to overwhelm kids with too much information for their maturity or age, it’s just as critical not to “dumb things down” or oversimplifying things because of a belief that your child won’t--or can’t understand. Your child might not have the experience or insight you do, but most adults underestimate children’s ability to understand situations and concepts. Speaking to your child respectfully and without condescension or patronizing will establish a relationship of mutual respect and help your child feel valued and capable of understanding.
Guidance Without the Micromanagement
As a mom or dad, it’s important to establish the difference between guidance and micromanagement. Guidance sets an expectation and gives a child the information they need to succeed. Micromanagement insists on controlling every part of the process, no matter how small, including the outcome. For example, it’s reasonable and important guidance for you to ask your child to keep his or her room clean. However, as opposed to saying, "Clean your room," then walking through each part of the room criticizing what wasn’t done well enough by the time bedtime rolls around, you might say, "I need you to keep your room clean as part of the family, which involves putting your laundry away and keeping your floor clear so it can be vacuumed. Can you get this done before bedtime?" This approach sets clear guidelines and an open-ended timeline that gives your child a say in when they get the task done. The second half of this equation is allowing your child to follow through without swooping in to control the outcome. If your child simply doesn’t clean the room, a fitting consequence can and should apply. However, if there’s a few spots of dust left after a good-faith effort, avoid the temptation to criticize and patronize.
Momsplaining and dadsplaining is a bad habit that many parents fall into, often out of good intentions to guide a child and help him or her succeed. However, having faith in your child’s ability to learn and understand, and relinquishing some control by allowing your child to learn, grow, and even make mistakes is the best way to help him or her succeed in life.
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