TODAY | August 28, 2012
>> al, thank you. this morning on parenting today can hovering over your children be harmful or helpful. in a moment we'll talk to the author of " teach your children well " but first nbc's kristen dahlgren talks to some teens and their parents who admit to holding back the helicopter in strength.
>> reporter: at a time when there's so much pressure on kids to be perfect.
>> my mom asking me to take latin.
>> do volunteer work and get a job.
>> reporter: they are like a lot of teens.
>> who feeling overscheduled.
>> parents are pretty typical, too.
>> whose standards are tougher, yours or your mom's.
>> my mom.
>> for gabby's mom, being a helicopter mom didn't seem to be working. even now she fights the urges.
>> her coach says she's got some natural abilities here. my first thought was, good, i'll get her a coach. no, no.
>> jessica's mom tina tries to stop herself from making to do lists for her daughter.
>> here are the things i want you to do for today, or here are the things i want you to do for the summer. here are the things i want you to do during the course of school.
>> for ben's mom lisa, letting her son fail is one of the hardest things.
>> when it was happening, we're going to have to let our son get hurt here. it was awful. there's nothing worse but you have to do it.
>> carol studied child rearing for 40 years agrees.
>> we've studied parents overpraising, and we're studying parents overdoing. it makes the child feel they can't do anything without the parent.
>> says there is a place for praise but the kids say telling the parents what they need to be tough.
>> they need to give us a little bit of room for breather, for us to make our own decisions.
>> there's a point when you can be pushed too hard.
>> parents say they are trying.
>> moving away from parenting that is a huge relief and a huge joy to know you see your kids feel very differently learning about you. it's a battle all the time.
>> reporter: moms and dads learning, too, a little less parenting may get more out of kids. for "today," kristen dahlgren, nbc news, sausalito, california.
>> clinical psychologist and educator madeleine levine, author of " teach your children well , parenting for success." good to have you here.
>> thank you.
>> i think we're all guilty of overparenting. how do you define overparenting, the helicopter overparent.
>> there's three components to overparenting. one is doing for your child what they can already do. if you're hovering over their math and they know how to do math. that's overparenting. the tougher one is doing for your child what they can almost do. what's interesting about that, we think we should be helping, right, but i call it a successful failure. your toddler takes a few steps. have you a young child.
>> a 3-year-old.
>> remember he took --
>> took a few steps, fell down. took a few steps, fell down. come on, get up. you would never think of saying, you're going to be flipping burgers for the rest of your life right as they are falling down. we understood they have to fall down thousands of times.
>> pick themselves back up and learn electric that.
>> that's right. i think the most toxic part of overparenting is when the boundaries aren't good between parents and children. that is we're applying to stanford, columbia, hofstra. we're not applying. your child is applying. they have enough tasks without worrying about your application as well, your feelings about it.
>> that's something that a lot of parents do, which we may sunk we're helping contribute to the success of the child but you say we could actually be hurting them fundamentally. why is that?
>> because in life we all need to make mistakes. if you think of child development kind of as a stool with three legs. one part of development is cognitive and academic. one part is social, one part personal. there's only 24 hours a day . if all the time is on the cognitive grade metrics, we're leaving out social development , how to get along with people, how to contribute to the house, how to be a good citizen, how to have character, all other parts, then the stool gets wobbly.
>> sometimes parents guilty of extreme parenting. is there an argument to be made sometimes, though, kids aren't trying hard enough.
>> sure. sometimes doesn't try hard enough. i think the secret adults have is we grow up and we do what we're good at. we are kind of average at a bunch of things and not very good at some other things. kids need to know this. nobody is expected to be 100% all the time.
>> right. you advise parents need to take it down a notch.
>> you say make sure they are getting nine hours of sleep, especially teens, preteens. why is that number so important.
>> it's what the american academy of pediatrics recommends. we have a boatload on the negative effects of sleep. the next thing parents need a life of their own. kids don't see adulthood of working all week long, being exhausted and then spending every hour on the weekend watching your kid hit a ball. spend some time with your husband or girlfriend or hobby or something that makes adulthood and growing up look attractive to kids.
>> good advice. i hope, myself, my husband, we all need to be listening. madeleine, thank you so much.
>> thank you.