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Do you find yourself hovering over your child’s every move? Do you worry that if you aren’t right there with them something bad will happen? If you answered yes, you’re demonstrating the classic signs of being a helicopter parent.
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What is Helicopter Parenting?
The term “helicopter parent” was first described in a 1960s parenting book. In the book, a teen complains about his overly protective mother hovering over him like a helicopter. The image stuck, and the concept of helicopter parenting was born. Over the years, the concept of the helicopter parent hasn’t changed much. These intensely protective moms and dads are extremely involved in their kids’ lives. In fact, the parent’s extreme involvement may cause more harm than help, even though they mean well.
What are the Signs of Helicopter Parenting?
When you know what to look for, helicopter parenting is easy to identify. Here are five signs of a helicopter parent:
- You involve yourself in every aspect of your child’s daily life.
- You do their homework and school projects for them.
- You make most of their decisions for them, even decisions they could make on their own.
- You do chores for them that they could do on their own.
- You are always close by, leaving them few opportunities to be independent.
No matter what actions helicopter moms and dads take, one thing is clear. Their children live in the shadow of their parent’s actions.
Why is Helicopter Parenting a Bad Idea?
Overprotective parenting can hurt kids, even though the parent’s intention is good. Kids raised by helicopter parents may develop poor problem-solving skills, an inability to cope with disappointment, and low self-esteem. One study found that kids raised by helicopter parents had a hard time managing their emotions and struggled in school. It’s important to balance helping your children with preparing them to be on their own later in life. While finding that balance is hard, it’s a key part of the parenting journey.
What are Some Better Ways to Help Kids Succeed?
Here are five practical tips to help your kids without being a helicopter parent:
Give children the opportunity to solve a problem
Instead of solving the problem for them, let them ask for help if they need it. The idea is to be a safety net when children encounter problems. They gain confidence and learn how to solve problems when they get to figure things out on their own.
Recognize the difference between controlling and guiding your kids
Controlling behavior, for example, is choosing which toy your child plays with. Guiding supports your child but doesn’t take over for them. Teaching your child to cope with disappointment is an example of guiding behavior. Knowing the difference between controlling and guiding helps parents make better parenting decisions.
Encourage independence by allowing your children to complete tasks appropriate for their age
For example, let them pick up their own toys, take their dishes to the sink, and pick out their clothes. Once they can do these things, let them. These common, everyday tasks help kids develop practical skills and self-confidence.
Model effective coping skills when you encounter mistakes or failure
Children watch their parents for cues about how to react in different situations. This is why you want to model the responses you want your children to make when they experience setbacks. Children learn a lot through observation. They are watching what you do and listening to what you say. Remember that the next time something goes wrong.
Allow your children to speak up when asked a question
Let your children speak for themself. Children gain self-confidence and self-esteem when given the opportunity to speak for themselves. Every parent wants to give their children the best in life, but excessive control over their kids isn’t the answer. Instead, guide them as life unfolds. Give them the love and wisdom they need to succeed now and later in life.
And, when the time comes, step aside so they can move out of your shadow and into a life of their own.