Helicopter Parenting: What you should know

Parents have a natural desire to provide the best for their children but being overprotective can cause more harm than good.

As parents, we want to ensure our children are loved, cared for, and safe. However, sometimes we can be a little too involved in our children’s lives, especially during the teen years when our kids are trying to find their place in the world.

Overbearing adults run the risk of becoming “helicopter parents,” who are always hovering around their children. Although most helicopter parents intend well, continuously intervening in your child’s life will cause more harm than good over time. When parents have too much control and influence, good intentions can backfire and a child may struggle to learn to cope on their own as adults.

What Does It Mean to Be a Helicopter Parent?

The term “helicopter parent” was coined in Haim Ginott’s book Parents & Teenagers, published in 1969. Ginott spoke with a teen who likened his mother to a helicopter and expressed his dissatisfaction with her “noise and hot air”. We now use the term to denote overprotective, domineering, or quick-to-interfere parents on their children’s behalf.

A helicopter parent may be seen hovering over a toddler, advising the child what to do and how to play. A helicopter parent may arrange too many activities for their child as he or she grows older.

Helicopter parents regularly monitor their children’s grades in high school and implement unhealthy steps when they notice grades are slipping. They may begin assisting with homework or even doing their child’s homework for them. They may blame the child’s teacher and request that the child be moved to another class.

College students may find that their helicopter parents are involved in their on-campus activities. Helicopter parents go as far as selecting their “almost grown-up” children’s classes and supervising their education. Helicopter parents may also jump in to assist with mundane tasks such as laundry or choosing what food their child should eat.

Helicopter Parenting’s Effect on Children

Researchers who have studied children who have overly active parents have discovered that too much attention isn’t always beneficial to them. Parents who hover over their children can harm their emotional development, resulting in:

Slowed social and academic growth: A group of children aged 2 to 10 was followed in one study. Those with more controlling parents had a harder time controlling their emotions and actions. As a result, their social skills degraded. Children with helicopter parents performed worse in school at the age of 10 than children with less controlling parents.

Problems with mental health: According to certain studies, helicopter parenting increases the likelihood of mental health problems. Over-protective parents might harm their children’s self-esteem. The youngster may grow up believing that their parents don’t trust them to make decisions on their own. College students with overly involved parents are more prone to experience sadness and anxiety symptoms.

Burnout: Academic burnout is more common in older children of helicopter parents than in their classmates. Part of this is due to their fear of disappointing their parents if they fail.

A lack of self-control: Another problem is that these children haven’t learnt how to regulate themselves. If they’ve grown accustomed to their parents micromanaging their lives, the stress of being on their own can be a rude awakening. They may find college and adulthood overwhelming if they have never developed good emotional coping methods.

Avoid Being A Helicopter Parent By Making These Changes

It’s not difficult to adjust your methods if you’re concerned that you’re doing too much for your children. Give your child more space to mature on their own by following these suggestions:

  • Pay attention to your children: Allow your children to express their thoughts and opinions. Let them know that you value their opinions.
  • Don’t dive in right away: Allow your child to try to solve a problem on their own if they are faced with one. If they ask for assistance, be eager to assist them, but don’t provide assistance that they may not want or require.
  • Adopt a growth mentality: Teach your children that every mistake is an opportunity to learn something new. Let children know that if something doesn’t work out the first time, they may usually try again.
  • Face your own fears: Your desire for control may be motivated by a fear of something horrible occurring to your child. Allowing your child to attempt new things on their own should not be a concern.

If you’re concerned that your parenting style is harming your child, get assistance from their pediatrician. You can also chat to a counsellor, parenting coach, or psychologist about your feelings and come up with fresh parenting ideas by calling them.

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