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I had a discussion with one of my children’s coaches yesterday that got me thinking. How do we set up our children for success? What is our mindset towards their sporting experience as children, and how does it affect their mindset as they attempt new, and ever more challenging tasks.

We all know the term helicopter parents. You know, the ones that hover around their child on the playground. The ones that fuss over every detail of their life to protect them from any potential danger. Well, there is a new mom (or dad in town), who is taking a slightly different approach. Helicopter parents are giving way to “lawnmower parents.”

Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure. Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place.

Most lawnmower parents think they are giving their child a head start by removing any obstacles or challenges in their path, but the unfortunate truth is that they are setting them up for failure on a much grander scale.

According to this article by a college professor who sees quite a few of these moms and dads and their offspring, these children lack the skills needed to handle common learning experiences. Anything from interpersonal interactions with roommates and colleagues, to speaking with bosses and managing disappointment. Additionally, they are unable to make decisions alone, doubt their ability to handle life on their own, and may lack the motivation to forge their own path.

As parents, we have to teach our children to exercise and apply the growth mindset to the obstacles in their path.

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” – Carol Dweck.

We need to trust our children to succeed on their own and encourage them with support and a belief in their ability to persevere. Above all, give them the room they need to make mistakes, even the big ones, and bear the consequences of their failure. (So they can reap the rewards of their own hard work and growth-centered mindset.)


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