Helicopter Parents

The phrase "helicopter parent" was coined in 1969, describing parents of teens that hovered over their children like a helicopter. Since its origins, the phrase has become so popular that it has been officially made into the dictionary. You may be familiar with phrases with similar meaning, such as "cosseting parent," "lawnmower parenting" or "bulldoze parenting." These kinds of parents are excessively focused on their children and take on an excessive responsibility for the experiences their children have in life.

What Is Helicopter Parenting?

Helicopter parenting is typically associated with parents of older children who are in high school or college, implying that parents are taking on responsibilities their children are old enough to manage on their own. Today’s use of the phrase, however, can apply to any age as the examples below reflect.

  • Helicopter parents might not give their toddlers enough time to explore on their own. They may be their children’s constant playmates or constantly direct their behavior.
  • Elementary school children with helicopter parents might find that their parents push them to be in a certain class or have a certain coach for extracurricular activities. These parents might offer excessive amount of assistance on schoolwork or make selections regarding their children’s activities or friends.
  • Helicopter parents of older children may intervene with professors when their children get poor grades, excessively manage their children’s habits, or interfere with their class schedule.

How Does Helicopter Parenting Affect My Child?

Helicopter parenting often stems from good intentions. You do not want to see your child struggle, but focusing only on helping him can cause you to lose perspective on what your child really needs. Ultimately, your goal as a parent should to be to love your child, but to show him acceptance and provide ground for self-confidence by providing him opportunities. You should be guiding your child through challenges rather than simply stepping in and making challenges easier. This will only teach your child that he cannot handle the challenges that he faces in life. Below are the negative effects of helicopter parenting on children.

  • Decreased Self Esteem. Helicopter parents are often trying to build their children’s self-esteem, but they are actually doing the opposite. These parents teach their children that they do not trust them to manage tasks on their own, which lowers their confidence.
  • Increased Anxiety. Studies have indicated that children with overbearing parents are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression.
  • Underdeveloped Life Skills. If you are always taking care of things for your children, dressing them, packing their lunch, cleaning up after them and so forth, your children will never develop the physical and mental skills they need to do these tasks on their own.
  • Lack of Stress-Management Skills. If parents are always stepping in to help their children, children will not develop the skills they need to deal with loss, failure, or disappointment. This will make it hard when children eventually need to address the stress of life on their own.
  • Sense of Entitlement. Children who have parents that allow them to get their way in athletic, social, or academic situations will eventually feel as though everything should always go their way. This causes a strong sense of entitlement that can lead to bad behavior.

How Can I Free My Child from Helicopter Parenting?

1. Offer Space to Explore

Toddlers need to learn to walk and explore on their own. This includes providing enough space to kick a ball, pull toys, or simply run around in an open space. They should be encouraged to climb stairs or explore smaller spaces while the parent supervises from a distance. If parents are excited about offering their children freedom, it will build their confidence rather than making them fearful of the world around them.

2. Let Your Kid Choose

From eighteen months to three years old, your child is starting to develop a separate sense of self. Parents can support this important step by allowing him to choose his own activities. Make the toys readily accessible instead of simply telling your child what activities might be fun, so your child can determine what he would like to do.

3. Avoid Getting Everything Done for Him

Sometimes,you need to allow your children to feel disappointment, struggle, or even fail at a task. If you do not allow your child to attempt tasks they are capable of, they will never be able to rise to the occasion. You need to learn to identify when it is time to step away, so your child can build confidence and self-reliance.

4. Acknowledge the Strength of Your Child

As your child sees what he has accomplished, he will learn his capabilities as an independent individual. When your child needs a boost of self-confidence, you can list all of the things he has accomplished without help. At the same time, you should be using this list to remind yourself when it’s time to back off and let your child work through issues on his own. It may be tempting to fix problems for your child, but this will only harm your child’s self-confidence in the long run.

Watch the video below to learn more about helicopter parenting: