What’s that hovering in the sky? It’s a bird! It’s a plane!
No, it’s a helicopter parent!
If you’re in one of the many parenting communities on social media or are an avid reader of parenting books, you’ve probably seen this term flung around before. But what is helicopter parenting and what are the effects of helicopter parents on their kids? Let’s find out!
What Is Helicopter Parenting?
Raising kids is a never-ending journey packed to the brim with love and laughter (and the occasional tantrum). Each and every parent has a parenting style that works for them and their family, from authoritative to permissive parenting. Helicopter parenting is one such style.
You know those parents that hover over their kids like a little helicopter? Those are helicopter parents. These parents are extremely involved, often in an effort to exert a positive influence on their child’s life.
It’s normal for parents to be involved in their child’s life—in fact, we encourage it! Helicopter parents, however, take this to the extreme. Ann Dunneworld, Ph.D, describes this phenomenon best: “It means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and over perfecting, in a way that is in excess of responsible parenting.”
Overprotective helicopter parents often cause their children to avoid key experiences that aid in the development of independence. For example, parents of younger kids might do their child’s homework to ensure they get good grades. Others stop their children from playing in the backyard, for fear of injury. Parents of older kids, on the other hand, may write their child’s resume or complete their college applications.
What Are the Effects of Helicopter Parents?
Helping your children learn and protecting them from danger is a big part of the parenting gig. Overprotecting them, however, is detrimental to their development. Here are some effects of helicopter parenting:
- Helicopter parenting stops kids from learning how to operate independently. As kids grow up and get older, it’s natural for them to gain a sense of independence from their parents. This helps them develop a strong sense of self-esteem, creative problem-solving skills, and confidence in their own abilities. When parents complete tasks for their children, it hinders their independent development.
- Helicopter parenting lowers a child’s confidence in their abilities. When parents stop their children from operating independently, it could send the message that they aren’t trusted to complete tasks alone. Kids look up to their parents. This message, whether intended or not, may result in decreased confidence and self-esteem.
- Kids of helicopter parents could develop a fear of failure. If a child isn’t used to accomplishing things on their own, they may grow up with a fear of failure. It makes sense: their history shows that a parent will do the work for them when they fail. This fear of failure can lead to increased anxiety and poor performance.
- Helicopter parenting inhibits a child’s coping skills. It’s difficult to watch your child experience hard emotions like sadness and fear. However, studies report that protecting kids from these difficult feelings might rob them of developing important coping skills that they’ll need later in life.
- Helicopter parents and kids may have a hard time separating. When parents are involved in every aspect of their child’s life, they likely develop an intense bond with each other. A strong parent-child relationship is definitely something to celebrate—but it could lead to difficulty separating when the child grows up and moves away from home.
How Can I Avoid Helicopter Parenting?
If you or your partner are inclined to over parent, it can be difficult knowing when to take a step back from your child’s life. Here are some ways you can avoid helicopter parenting and help your kids grow and develop successfully in the process:
- Let your child fail. As human beings, we learn best by making mistakes and correcting them. Failure is vital to a child’s development. Help your kiddo process their failures, then show them how easy it is to get back up and try again.
- Let your child be bored. Boredom is boring—and that’s the fun part! When kids are bored, their brain works overtime to come up with a stimulating solution. This exercises their creativity and problem-solving skills. So next time your child has a free afternoon, don’t sign them up for their sixth dance class. Let them be bored!
- Encourage your child’s independence. As your child matures and learns how to complete tasks independently, don’t be afraid to let go. It’s important that kids do things alone. When your child sees you encouraging their independence, their self-esteem and confidence in their abilities can only go up.
- Give your child responsibilities. Giving your child responsibilities around the house shows them that you trust them to act independently. Create a chore chart with tasks to do around the house, give them a small allowance so they can learn financial skills, or help them learn how to responsibly use technology with a kid-friendly, parent-approved smartphone from Troomi Wireless.
- Create an atmosphere of comfortable communication. You know what they say: communication is key. In your home, work to create a space where your child feels comfortable sharing. That way, they can easily tell you when you’re hovering too close.
Encourage Your Child’s Independence
Helicopter parenting is just one of the myriad parenting styles out there—but it borders on overparenting. While it’s a natural part of the parenting gig to protect your kids, helicopter parents take this to the extreme.
To avoid the negative effects of helicopter parents, remember to bring your helicopter back to land and encourage your child’s independence. Let them make mistakes and grow from their failures! After all, there’s nothing more exciting than watching your children develop into capable, unique adults.
So sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the view from the ground.