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How ‘snowplow parenting’ can hurt child development

Dr. Jennifer Hartstein was recently featured as a contributor in this article, originally posted on MPR News.

The recent scandal of parents buying their children’s way into college brought the term “snowplow parenting” to light. But parents who move challenges out of the way for their children have been around forever, says author and educator Jessica Lahey.

“There’s so many labels, and all of them require parents to swoop in and fix everything,” she said, referring to other terms like “helicopter” or “blackhawk” parents.

Lahey is the author of the book, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed.” She also has two children of her own. She believes snowplow parenting delays a child’s development.

“What builds real self-esteem is competence, which is confidence based on actual experience,” she said.

Psychologist Jennifer Hartstein agrees. She works with children, adolescents and parents. She often sees teenagers and young adults who are unable to do things for themselves.

“Parents go above and beyond, which, from a psychological perspective, shows they have no trust that children can do things on their own,” she said. “I have a 21-year-old client that was mad about something that happened in session. And I heard from his mother.”

Hartstein and Lahey joined host Angela Davis to talk about snowplow parenting, what it is and how it affects children. They also gave some guidance for overeager parents who just want their children to succeed.

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