‘Snow Plowing’ – Another Parenting Style For Us All To Avoid

shutterstock_127783751I was reading through the news this morning when I thought that I accidentally hit a link to the parody news site The Onion. The headline I saw was, “Snow Plow Parenting Becoming New Trend.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t a joke. A parenting style I hadn’t heard of? How could that be?

How in the world could there possibly be a new parenting trend I haven’t heard of? I comb the Internet for this stuff for a living. But there it was, right before my eyes – a video and some anecdotes about a new trend in parenting called “snow plowing.” I tried to guess what this could possibly be before I read through it. I had images of pushy parents shoving kids on the playground and plowing over each other for the best toys at the store. Nope. Apparently snow plowing is the act of clearing all of the obstacles out of your child’s way and trying to garner achievements for them, rather than teaching them how to achieve themselves.

From trying to bribe coaches of teams they want their children on with baked goods to not letting children dress themselves – snow plow parents aim to make life easier for their kids by doing the grunt work for them.

I am definitely not a snow plow parent.

I have thought about this concept a lot, before I even knew it was a thing. I generally regard the whole problem with this type of parenting as a lack of patience. It takes patience to watch your child fail over and over again while trying something new. But it’s necessary. My two-year-old puts on his own socks and shoes because he is hell bent on doing it himself. Sometimes, this means it will take an extra 10 minutes to get out the door. Watching him rather than doing it for him takes patience. Luckily, I usually have the time to wait.

I realize this is a much smaller task that getting him a place on the neighborhood T-ball team with some home made cupcakes or finishing his homework for him. But I think it all stems from the same place. We need to learn to patiently watch our kids fail and reward them for hard work rather than teaching them the fastest way to accomplishments is best.

Renowned Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph.D., warns of another consequence, “They’re teaching their children a terrible lesson,” she said. “If you’re not good at something immediately, get out. It’s humiliating to be a novice.”

Dweck’s book “Mindset” details her research, showing when students are praised for achievement, they actually become fearful of failure and stop trying.

On the other hand, “We said, ‘When you get something wrong, it means you need more effort or you need to try another strategy.’ And guess what happened? They became more resilient.”

Good grades never came easy to me. I always had to study really hard, compared to my sister who seemed to effortlessly achieve A’s her whole life. But I always remember my mother praising me for my hard work. It kept me going and made me feel proud of my achievements when they came. Now, I can teach myself pretty much anything and I have a resilience that I am very proud of.

My mom had the right “parenting style” before she even knew there was such thing as a one. Hopefully, I’ll follow in her footsteps.

(photo: Leonard Zhukovsky/ Shutterstock.com)

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    • http://www.facebook.com/stina.kolling Stina Wargo Kolling

      wait, the book says “when students are praised for achievement, they actually become fearful of failure and stop trying.” you say “I always remember my mother praising me for my hard work.” sounds like your mom is going against the book there. not that that really matters. you turned out okay.

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

        I hate to admit it, but my achievements weren’t great. It was always the hard work she praised me for. That’s why I think she was great at being a mom!

      • Tinyfaeri

        It’s the difference between praising a child for an acheivement, and praising their work ethic that got them to the acheivement (or didn’t, either way). With praise just for acheivements, they can stop working at things and go for the easy win so they can get the praise. If you praise the work behind the acheivement, children learn that they need to work for things, and that working towards a goal and acheiving it feels really good. “Wow, see, you really studied hard for that test and it paid off!” vs “You got an A! You’re such a smartie!”

      • http://www.facebook.com/belinda.long.71 Belinda Long

        There is a difference between praise and encouragement. When you praise, you are are telling a child what they did good by using judging words such as “Good” or “Great.” With praise the child relies on external motivators. When you encourage, you use descriptions to comment on what the child did. Encouragement focuses on what the child accomplished, improved or did right. This causes the child to internally say “Yeah, I did do good” or “I did try hard & look how I improved.” You can encourage someone anytime, but you can’t really praise someone if they truly did not do a good job. You can learn more about the difference between praise and encouragement and building self-esteem in children at http://parentstoolshop.org/parenting-tools/prevent/building-self-esteem-in-children/

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