Are You A Snowplough Parent?

The buzzword in education at the moment is resilience. The thinking is that it doesn’t matter how cherished, loved and educated a child is, if they’re not used to dealing with setbacks themselves, then they won’t develop the requisite resilience they’ll need to navigate the peaks and troughs of adult life. This has given ‘snowplough’ parents (those that clear the path ahead of obstacles for their beloved offspring) pause for thought: What’s the point of all that super achieving at school if you’re going to end up dropping out of uni in your first year because you can’t handle the stress?

As with most parenting tropes, the trick is to get into the habit of engendering self reliance and acceptance early on. Personally I like to model being an imperfectionist in the following ways.

  • Admit Your Own Mistakes. My kids absolute favourite story about me was the time when I proudly pulled out a ‘and here’s one I made earlier’ fish pie from the freezer for tea only to find (by the gorgeous smells emanating from the kitchen’ that it was actually an Apple Pie! “Oh well, Apple Pie for tea it is” I said much to the kids delight! If I’d had the presence of mind to hammer the point home I’d have added something about ‘everybody makes mistakes, that’s how we learn. I guess I’ll label the pie next time’. But I was too busy eating apple pie. Heigh ho.
  • Is There Another Way To Do That? I’ll admit. Sometimes I use this simply to buy a bit of extra time. On the positive side, even if it’s just sorting the blocks by colour rather than shape, the question encourages the development of an agile mind that will automatically find an alternative solution to whatever the challenge is.
  • See the positives. Obviously we see A LOT of nannies and child minders at Mini Mozart and we can spot a gem from a mile away. I will never forget bumping into one of our regular nannies in ferocious pouring rain near our local doctor’s surgery. “Oh dear – Is your little one ill too” I asked. “No” she replied; “but we were supposed to be meeting friends for a picnic today and they cancelled because of the rain. We don’t let the rain stop our fun though do we” she said to her charge. “We’ve come out to jump in muddy puddles just like Peppa Pig!” Talk about turning a frown upside down!
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