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Why We Should Weed Out Lawnmower Parenting

By January 20, 2020NESCA Notes 2019

By:  Alissa Talamo, Ph.D.
Pediatric Neuropsychologist

There are many parenting styles and trends…helicopter parents, attachment parents, free range parents, and now…the lawnmower parent. All of these parenting styles come from loving, well-meaning parents who want to do what is best for their children and protect them from harm. However, the lawnmower parent, the newest iteration of such approaches, often prevents a child from gaining necessary lifelong skills.

If a helicopter parent is a parent who hovers over their child and jumps in to solve a problem that a child could actually resolve on their own, a lawnmower parent (also referred to as a snowplow parent or bulldozing parent) is a parent who goes out of their way to remove every obstacle for their child; trying to anticipate their child’s every need and solve the problem before the child even experiences it. Lawnmower parent behaviors include everything from choosing a young child’s activities to directly calling a child’s college professor to ask for an extension on an assignment, and—as recently seen play out in the news—the college admissions scandal. One college professor (as shared on the Pittsburgh Moms blog) described lawnmower parenting as ‘Curling Parents,’ “given the similarity to the Olympic athletes who scurry ahead of the gently thrown stone, frantically brushing a smooth path and guiding the stone towards an exact pre-determined location.”

A negative side effect of the lawnmower parent approach is that it suggests to the child they are not able to handle any situation on their own, and possibly the idea that their parents believe they will fail rather than succeed unless the parent clears the way. How can a child develop a sense of self, and confidence to know they can make mistakes and still be ok, unless they are allowed to experience both success and failure? Children need to develop their own problem-solving skills, at a developmentally appropriate level, to know they can solve bigger problems. While it is ok to help your child (or friend, spouse, sibling) out of a difficult situation at times, everyone needs to learn to self-advocate, develop problem-solving skills and feel that sense of accomplishment that doing so yields.


About the Author:

With NESCA since its inception in 2007, Dr. Talamo had previously practiced for many years as a child and adolescent clinical psychologist before completing postdoctoral re-training in pediatric neuropsychology at the Children’s Evaluation Center.

After receiving her undergraduate degree from Columbia University, Dr. Talamo earned her doctorate in clinical health psychology from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University.

She has given a number of presentations, most recently on “How to Recognize a Struggling Reader,” “Supporting Students with Working Memory Limitations,” (with Bonnie Singer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP of Architects for Learning), and “Executive Function in Elementary and Middle School Students.”

Dr. Talamo specializes in working with children and adolescents with language-based learning disabilities including dyslexia, attentional disorders, and emotional issues. She is also interested in working with highly gifted children.

Her professional memberships include MAGE (Massachusetts Association for Gifted Education), IDA (International Dyslexia Association), MABIDA (the Massachusetts division of IDA) and MNS (the Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society).

She is the mother of one teenage girl.

To book a consultation with Dr. Talamo or one of our many other expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form.

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email or call 617-658-9800.