Five Lessons We Can Learn From Snowplough Parents

Do you know a parent who fights all their kid's battles for them? Or perhaps you've seen a parent curse their child's teacher for giving them a bad grade. Meet the snowplough parent.


We’ve heard of helicopter parenting and free-range parenting – but here’s a new strategy to get your head around. Do you know a parent who fights all their kid’s battles for them? Or perhaps you’ve seen a parent curse their child’s teacher for giving them a bad grade. Meet the snowplough parent.

So what is this form of parenting and how does it work? In a nutshell, snowplough parents are those who not only want the best for their child, they’ll do whatever it takes to get it – pushing aside any obstacle that gets in the way.

You might have heard of lawnmower or bulldozer parenting before. This is pretty similar – the idea is to protect your child from any adversity or hardship.

How does snowplough parenting affect children?

Think about it. If you fight your child’s battles for them, what are they really learning? What do they gain when you shelter them so absolutely? Nothing!

Of course you want the best for our children, but what if I told you that being overprotective could cause your child to develop social anxiety and other issues?

Studies have shown that overprotective mothers tend to project their own anxieties and fears onto their child when they shield them from distress and hardships.

How not to be a snowplough parent

We all want what’s best for our children, but we can’t expect them to learn anything about life if we shelter and protect them from every hardship that comes their way. If you want to raise a strong and confident human being, consider this list of what-not-to-dos.

1Learn to stand your ground

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by your toddler! I picture a room full of parents who are shyly raising their hands. It’s nothing to be ashamed about – I’m scared of my own toddler sometimes.

However, one of our main jobs as parents is to be the best first teacher our kids can have. Part of that means standing your ground when you need to.

Children need to learn that life isn’t always fair. That they won’t always get what they want. If you learn to stand your ground with your child in tough situations, you’re teaching them how to overcome adversity on their own.

2Encourage children to do things that scare them

A major concern for snowplow parents is wanting to shield their children from new and scary things. However, in the long run this is doing more harm than good.

How can we expect our kids to have the confidence to try new things if we’re constantly diverting scary situations? I’m not saying you should abandon them to danger, but let them try new things that might be a bit daunting. They’ll thank you in the long run.

3Let them be independent

Children thrive on independence. By letting them be their own people, you’re giving them the tools they need to face life head-on.

You can start small. Assign them specific jobs around the house. Take them grocery shopping and give them responsibility for finding certain items. These seemingly insignificant tasks will help them grow into confident, independent teens and adults.

At home, we’re believers in the Montessori approach to encourage our kids to become more independent.

4Ask them what they think they should do

If your child comes to you with a tricky situation, it’s tempting to step in and take care of the problem for them. Try to resist – we’re fostering independence, remember?

If your child comes and asks for help, try asking them what they think they should do first. If they come back with “I don’t know” and try to persuade you to get involved, don’t worry. Keep encouraging them to think it through, and discuss potential solutions with them to help them make a decision.

They’ll feel proud of themselves for handling the situation, rather than relying on you.

5Check your behavior and rethink it if necessary

I’m the first to admit that one of the toughest parts of parenting is making sure I conduct myself a way I’d like my daughter to emulate. Even when it’s straightforward we all have some bad habits, and they can be pretty hard to shake.

If you find yourself getting overprotective or maybe even negative about something, it may be time to take a step back and recalculate your approach to life.

We are our kids’ main role models. They pick up on our body language and behaviour, and they copy it. Bear that in mind.

6Don’t be THAT parent

To go back to the top… Don’t be the parent who curses teachers for the bad grade. Don’t be the one who walks your child right to the school door every day. If someone proposes a whole-school overnight at the PTA meeting, don’t be the one who freaks out.

Your child is more resilient than you might think. We need to let them take some risks, make mistakes, navigate their own problems. Relax. You’ve got this – and so have they.

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