Helicopter parenting is a parenting style in which parents are overly focused on their children. They frequently take far too much responsibility for their children’s experiences, particularly their successes and failures. Over-parenting is simply helicopter parenting. It entails being involved in a child’s life in an excessively controlling, overprotective, and perfecting manner, in excess of responsible parenting.
Helicopter parenting is most commonly applied to parents who assist high school or college-aged students with tasks that they are capable of doing on their own (for instance, calling a professor about poor grades, arranging a class schedule, or managing exercise habits). However, helicopter parenting can occur at any age.
In toddlerhood, a helicopter parent may constantly hover over the child, playing with and directing his behaviour, leaving him with no alone time.
In elementary school, helicopter parents may work to ensure that their child has a specific teacher or coach, choose their child’s friends and activities, or provide excessive help with homework and school projects.
Helicopter parenting can occur for a variety of reasons, but there are some common triggers.
Fear of negative consequences. Parents may be concerned about their child’s rejection from a sports team or a failed job interview, especially if they believe they could have done more to assist. Many of the consequences (parents) are attempting to prevent unhappiness, struggle, not excelling, hard work, and no guaranteed results—are excellent teachers for children and are not life-threatening. That’s just how it feels.
Anxiety symptoms. Concerns about the economy, the job market, and the world in general can motivate parents to exert more control over their children’s lives in order to protect them. Worry can motivate parents to assert control in the hope that they will never hurt or disappoint their child.
Overcompensation. Adults who experienced unloved, neglect, or rejection as children may overcompensate with their children. Excessive attention and monitoring are sometimes used to compensate for the parents’ shortcomings in their upbringing.
Other parents’ peer pressure. When parents observe other overly involved parents, they may experience a similar reaction. When we see other parents over-parenting or being helicopter parents, it can put pressure on us to do the same. We can easily believe that if we do not actively participate in our children’s lives, we are bad parents. Guilt plays a significant role in this dynamic.
The Downsides of Helicopter Parenting.
Many helicopter parents begin with the best of intentions. It’s a fine line to walk between being engaged with our children and their lives and losing sight of what they require.
A child can benefit from engaged parenting in many ways, including feelings of love and acceptance, increased self-confidence, and opportunities to grow. However, once parenting becomes governed by fear and decisions based on what might happen, it’s difficult to remember everything kids learn when we are not guiding each step. Failure and challenges teach children new skills and, most importantly, teach them that they are capable of dealing with failure and challenges.
The consequences of helicopter parenting are numerous, but they may include the following:
Reduced self-esteem and confidence.
The primary disadvantage of helicopter parenting is that it backfires. The underlying message that (the parent’s) over-involvement sends to children is that “my parent does not trust me to do this on my own.” This message, in turn, creates a sense of insecurity.
Undeveloped coping abilities.
How does a child learn to cope with disappointment, loss, or failure if the parent is always there to clean up their child’s mess or prevent the problem from occurring in the first place? As a result, helicopter parenting can result in unhealthy behaviors.
Overly controlling parents can impair their child’s ability to regulate emotions and behaviour. Children who had helicopter parenting had an inflated sense of self and were impulsive.
Anxiety has increased.
Overparenting is linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression in children. Helicopter parenting is also associated with lower emotional, decision-making, and academic functioning.
Feeling of entitlement.
Children who have always had their social, academic, and athletic lives adjusted by their parents may develop a sense of entitlement as a result of this.
Inadequate life skills.
Parents who always tie their children’s shoes, clear their plates, pack their lunches, launder their clothes, and monitor their children’s school progress, even after they are mentally and physically capable of doing so, prevent their children from mastering these skills.
We have a difficult job as parents. We must keep one eye on our children—their stressors, strengths, and emotions—while also keeping one eye on the adults we are attempting to raise. Getting them from here to there involves some pain, both for our children and for us.
In practice, this means allowing children to struggle, being disappointed, and assisting them in working through failure. It also entails allowing your children to complete tasks that they are physically and mentally capable of.
Remembering to look for opportunities to step back from solving our child’s problems will help us raise resilient, self-assured children.
Our parents are always with us, no matter how far we have come.