In today's world where mental health far outweighs academics as the primary reason that children don't succeed, kids need space to figure life out, to learn, fall down, and get back up, Hetterly shared. It is through these experiences that they learn resiliency, or the ability to bounce back from adversity.
"Without life skills and resiliency, kids are having a tough time in the college environment," said Hetterly.
"Kids today are experiencing an inability to step into real life where their choices and decisions have the greatest impact on outcomes."
Evidence of these struggles can be found in college retention and graduation rates. A stunning 30% of children are not continuing past sophomore year and only 60% of college students have graduated after 6 years, said Hetterly.
To assist parents in empowering their children and preparing them for success, Hetterly shared important tips with the audience.
"Don't do for them what they can do for themselves. Habits count at this age," said Hetterly.
Starting in the 1980's, parenting styles began a shift from a hands-off approach to over-parenting, or extreme optimization, Hetterly shared. As a backlash to this trend, children are out-rating their parents in stress levels and often suffer from a condition called learned helplessness.
"There's no need for children to learn these skills on their own if we parents do everything for them," said Hetterly. "Not every obstacle is avoidable, and if we rob children of adversity, they miss out on a critical developmental step."
In other guidance, Hetterly shared that exercise and having a regular outlet for physical release are the best ways to process stress. Sleep is critical, as a rested mind will be more fit to manage stressors and anxiety. Additionally, for teens, getting a job yields a multitude of benefits, from learning time management, to work ethic, to having an outlet outside of academics and social pressures, Hetterly said.
Hetterly closed with an important reminder about our children:
"We have good kids, and so many of the choices they make are good ones. We have to be careful not to be hyper-aware of the poor choices."