How far is too far? Parenting involvement in school

So many studies have been done on the topic of how involved parents should be with their children’s schooling and what that involvement looks like. Often, these studies are contradictory. This study, aggregates other studies that investigate the strategies parents use in helping their children academically.  The intention of this is to allow the best and worst practices to percolate forth.

Although all age groups were looked at, I was particularly interested in the section of the study that looked at teens.

For high school students, the ways their parents could have the most positive impact on their child’s academics was:

  • having high attainment expectations
  • organizing academic based learning enrichment activities (science centre, watching a historical movie, reading relevant books)
  • establishing a level of trust with their teen that allowed honest dialogue around school and life issues

The ways that parents could have a negative impact on their child’s academics were mainly through the use of perceived controlling actions, such as:

  • checking of homework
  • homework control (threats or deals)
  • helping with homework
  • outright conflict around school

It would seem for high schoolers, the best formula is to create a safe place for them to discuss anything with you, providing experiences that springboard off of their interests and also keep the bar high. This link can help in that process. Taking a more curious role in your teen’s school life, rather than the drill sergeant approach seems to be most effective. Although,  it may seem that things are slipping out of control without your direct interference, according to the study, the opposite is occurring.

Visualize future and success makes it a reality


I think word is getting out there that having a positive mind can achieve amazing results. This is equally as true for students. How can you as a student, or a parent, take advantage of this tool and apply it to school?

The first step is to discuss long term goals with your kids, or if you are a student, write down your goals for the next ten years. Then make a list of short term goals to achieve the main dream.

Now visualize that the short term goals have been met and then the longer term goals. Write down what you see and how you feel. This is a great exercise to do everyday, especially when you feel like slacking off or dejected from poor results from a test or assignment.  

Another time to do this is before a test. I believe you should never study on the day of the test. Rather, this time should be spent relaxing, eating well and staying positive. This means staying away from others who might ‘psych’ you out with their fears.

Now you could also add this visualization exercise on the day of the test. Simply take out a piece of paper, imagine your success on the test. Write down what you see in your mind and how you feel.

This forced positiveness has been shown to have real world results.

Springer. “Imagining a successful future can help students overcome everyday difficulties: Researchers find that disadvantaged students benefit from visualizing a positive future for themselves to manage challenges and stress.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 January 2018. <>.

The dream is to have a child who is self-motivated. How do I MAKE my kid like this?



What do yelling at your kids, shaming your kids, or micromanaging your kids schooling all have in common? They are all very ineffective ways at promoting self-motivation in your children.

Parents who employ these strategies think that it is possible to foster internal self-motivation in their child through external factors. It is more likely the opposite will incur and a lot of research backs this up.

But you don’t even need any research because I feel like these are obvious conclusions. For example, people who are ruled by fear historically tend to only do the bare minimum to avoid punishment and stop entirely when the fear stimulus has been removed.

Continuing this logical path of questioning, how would doing your child’s homework help them learn their subject or how would making a calendar for them teach them time management? It can’t.

Parents who micromanage their children this way are called helicopter parents and inevitably it creates a child who is unmotivated and completely dependent on their parents. At best!

For these parents they don’t want their child to fail and that is one of the essential ingredients in forming a self-motivated human being. If you reflect on your own life experience and focus on those areas where your motivation was a factor in success, you could no doubt link it to a failure or a chain of them that taught you a solid lesson.

For example, I remember leaving my dishes uncleaned for a week in the sink and when I went to go do them, there was mold everywhere. I was really disgusted and this helped convince me why cleaning regularly was important.

The best you can do to encourage self-motivating is by creating a safe environment in which they can fail. Safe, in this context, means without judgement from you. Allow them to make their own decisions and keep an eye out for the ones that are truly dangerous (like drugs). Allow them to fail.

As Alfred said to Batman: “why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” As hard as it is to see our kids fall, it’s the only way they will learn to pick themselves up.

Queensland University of Technology. “Helicopter parents take extreme approach to homework: Parents who take the overparenting approach, known as helicopter parenting, are possibly hindering their child’s development by becoming too heavily involved in homework.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 February 2016. <>.

A Helicopter parenting style achieves the opposite of what the parent, and child, want.

Helicopter parents behave the way they do out of fear. They want to see their child be successful and safe and they are afraid that their child will have neither.

Research is pointing that such parenting methodology will have the opposite effect however. Instead of being successful and safe, children of helicopter parents are less likely to be able to regulate their own emotions, are more depressed and less satisfied with their lives.

From my experience as an educator, parents find it easier to label OTHER parents as helicopter parents instead of themselves. Looking at our own behaviour is often much more difficult to do and to assess fairly.

But if we want to help our kids truly, we need to change this behaviour. With any big changes the first step is to determine if you are part of the problem rather than the solution. BBC has provided an online test that you can try that also includes some useful parenting tips.

Try it and then if the results are not as favourable as you would have liked them, commit to taking steps to work on your own parenting style, rather than label the quiz results as useless.

Springer Science+Business Media. “Helicopter parenting can violate students’ basic needs.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2013. <>.

American Psychological Association. “Helicopter parenting may negatively affect children’s emotional well-being, behavior: Children with overcontrolling parents may later struggle to adjust in school and social environments, study says.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2018. <>.