The term “helicopter parents” was first coined in a parenting book by Dr. Haim Ginott over 50 years ago. But it’s a phrase we seem to hear more and more of these days. So what is a helicopter parent? And are you guilty of helicopter tendencies?
What is a helicopter parent?
A helicopter parent is known for “hovering” over their child, in an effort to guide and protect them. While wanting the best for your kids is part and parcel of being a parent, some caregivers find it difficult knowing where to draw the line.
Helicopter parents are overprotective and over involved in every aspect of their kids’ lives, taking too much responsibility for their successes and failures.
Sure, all of this worry and work for our kids comes from a place of love, but it can unfortunately have some negative side-effects.
But first, what behaviors do helicopter parents usually display?
Signs that you might be a helicopter parent
Wondering if you deserve the label of helicopter parent? Here are a few tell-tale signs to look out for.
- You don’t leave your kids to fight their own battles.
- You do their schoolwork for them / always provide lots of assistance.
- You always do all the housework and your kids don’t lift a finger.
- You bubble-wrap your kids, preventing them from taking physical risks and trying to protect them from every bump or graze.
- You do things for your child that they could do for themselves.
- You always jump in if you think your child is about to make a mistake.
- You don’t like leaving younger kids to play by themselves. And you’re always checking in with older kids throughout their day.
While all parents engage in these kinds of protective behaviors from time to time (taking care of our kids is kinda in the job description!), it comes under the helicopter parenting label when you are consistently going over the top.
And that’s when problems can arise…
5 surprising helicopter parenting effects
Parents who “helicopter” do so with the best of intentions. But there are some surprising, and concerning, helicopter parenting effects — things that anyone would be keen to avoid.
Low confidence and self-esteem
Kids grow in confidence by overcoming some of life’s little challenges by themselves. When parents always step in to help, kids end up feeling they can’t be trusted or aren’t capable of doing things successfully by themselves.
Poor coping skills
Children who have always been protected from disappointment, failure, or frustration find it much more difficult to deal with these emotions in later life. They’re not used to recovering from and making up for a mistake and miss out on lots of valuable life lessons as a result.
A sense of entitlement
If you regularly instruct your child’s teachers, step in to get them the best role in a school production, or negotiate with friends on their behalf, your kids get used to life going their way. They expect to get what they want and can end up being excessively demanding of people around them.
Higher levels of anxiety and depression
A number of studies have shown that kids whose parents have been over-involved in their lives are more likely to suffer from mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as they get older.
A poor parent-child relationship
This is a counterintuitive — but worrying — helicopter parenting effect.
Helicopter parents are very caring and engaged with their kids. However, children of all ages crave independence to differing degrees. And there’s a risk that they’ll push a helicopter parent away in order to develop their own identity and self-reliance.
How not to be a helicopter parent
As we can see, there are a number of negative helicopter parenting effects.
Kids obviously need the love and support of their parents, but we need to find the right balance between caring for our kids and encouraging their independence.
If you’re worried that you’ve been taking a little too much responsibility for your kids’ lives and wellbeing, here are some tips on how not to be a helicopter parent.
Let kids talk about their feelings
Empathizing with the way your child feels is really important. But if those feelings happen to be negative, you don’t need to try and fix the situation.
Practice your listening skills, encourage kids to come up with their own solutions, and know that being available to your kids — but allowing them to come to you — is often the best course of action.
Don’t do stuff for them that they can do for themselves
Kids are growing and changing all the time. As parents, we sometimes need to remind ourselves that our expectations of them can grow and change, too.
Ask yourself if your kid is capable of cleaning their own room, managing their school deadlines, fitting that jigsaw together, or putting their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
Kids of any age take pride in doing something for themselves for the first time. The more age-appropriate responsibility you give to your child, the more independent and capable they will feel.
If your child often asks you for help, practice saying “No, I think you can do this by yourself”. Working through their difficulties, experiencing frustration, and then enjoying their successes will help your kids to become capable and resilient.
Let them fail
This is a really tough one. Knowing your child is about to make a mistake and knowing that a few words of advice could prevent it, it’s really difficult to keep schtum.
However, it’s important to remember that kids learn so much from experiencing consequences — much more than they learn from any well-meaning parental guidance.
You will need to rescue them from time to time, of course. But when the situation allows, take a step back. Your kids will learn a ton of social, emotional, and practical skills in the process.
Time to land, helicopter parents!
As parents, we have the unenviable job of raising our kids to one day fly the nest.
Helicopter parents overprotect their child, forgetting that one day they’ll need to make it on their own.
It takes a lot of willpower to let your kids face challenges and make mistakes. Just rest assured that in letting them experience a little adversity, you’re helping your children to develop essential life skills — and doing the best possible job as their parent.
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Link will appear as Are You a Helicopter Parent? What Is Helicopter Parenting and What Effect Does it Have on Your Child?: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 6, 2020