Are you a Helicopter Parent?
What this means for you and your child.
What is Helicopter Parenting?
Do you redo your child’s homework to ensure everything is perfect? Do you always solve your child’s battles for them? Forbid your child to participate in in anything perceived to be potentially dangerous such as sports or riding a bike? Constantly check on your children via phone calls or texts? If you’ve answered yes to most of these questions, then you’re a Helicopter Parent!
And what now?
A Helicopter Parent is a term used for parents who are over-engaged, over-involved and over-intrude the life of their child. This isn’t limited to making decisions on their behalf, finding solutions to their conflicts, and solving their problems. While seemingly harmless, this behaviour among parents has been proven to negatively impact their children in the long term through health problems, mental health issues, lack of self regulation skills and other shortfalls.
Helicopter parenting is believed to revolve around three primary behaviors:
- Doing for children what they can do for themselves.
- Doing for children what they can almost do for themselves.
- Making parenting decisions based on your ego.
Who is a Helicopter Parent?
A helicopter parent can be applied to any parent at any age, regardless of their child’s developmental phase ranging from toddlerhood to adulthood. Overprotective parents may differ in focal areas that may be attributed by gender. Helicopter moms have tendencies of being more heavily invested than dads in a broader spectrum while helicopter dads are typically less detailed oriented but are still concerned overall regarding the child’s status and career path.
Why is Helicopter Parenting more prevalent now and Why do Parents hover?
Helicopter parenting is prevalent more now than ever as parents are urged to participate in a child’s life at a micro-level. This starts at preschool such as being over-involved in their child’s school activities by becoming in-class volunteer, coaching games, setting up playdates and even ensuring their children are prepared for kindergarten by doing extra schoolwork. And it doesn’t end there, In recent years, it’s been reported that many colleges have seen increased presence from parents who show up on unsolicited campus visits meant for their children and a rise in the turn out of parents to college orientations and admission events.
Technological advances also contribute to the problem of “Helicopter Parenting.” We now live in the Information Age, and with this we’re privileged to have the world at our finger tips. However, as much as this may be beneficial in most instances, it also poses as a problem to parents. Now, a huge volume of parental information is easily accessible. We bombarded by every scary thing that could possibly happen to your child; ranging from child abductions to reports of every illness conceivable that could ail our children. As important as it is to be connected to current events, there is a tendency for us to overindulge in bad news and as for parents, this results in the over protection and the coddling of our children.
Parents also hover for a variety of reasons such as the need for control. It’s understandable that parents have no control over kidnappers or pedophiles that they’re constantly faced with in the media, but they do have control how their children spend their time and with whom and therefore, keep them on a tight leash.
Next, fearing failure. These parents cannot handle the feelings of inadequacy and disappointment their child might feel when dealing with a lack of success, it’s far too much heartache. Parent’s believe it’s their job to shield and protect their child from negative emotions. Overcompensation is also key to helicopter parenting. As certain parents may have felt neglected and unloved in their own childhood, they make up for this by overcompensating with their children via excessive attention and the constant monitoring of the child.
- Stunts Creativity
The schoolwork that was assigned to children was intended to grow their ability to think creatively and critically in order for them to form their own ideas and outcomes. When parents are constantly giving their children ideas and are brainstorming for them, this robs their child of the chance to project their own concepts and solutions. If asked for help, parents may provide assistance by asking open ended question to stimulate their child’s creative thoughts. It’s important to commend children for their unique thoughts though it may differ from what is expected by parents. Lastly, supporting your child’s capacity to think individually is crucial in developing their creative and critical thinking skills.
- Hinder Coping Skills
It can be difficult for parents to witness their children face sadness, frustration and disappointment but it’s absolutely paramount for parents to allow their children to experience small failures so that they may develop healthy coping mechanisms. Through this, parents will begin to see their child’s character develop and uncover their personal work ethic and construct ideas on how to deal with their failures. It’s important for parents to extend their support and encouragement to their children to cope in a healthy manner and subsequently children will learn how to endure their challenges and deal with things differently next time.
- Refrains Self-Confidence from Building
When the grades of children in schoolwork and project assignments are completely or partially done by their parents, the confidence cannot be felt by their own child. The knowledge of have they or have they not earned marks or grades based on their own abilities makes a huge difference. Parents need to encourage children in their own abilities and capabilities. It’s an empowering experience for a child to do a task alone. Independent completion of their work will result in becoming self-reliant and competent simultaneously.
- Conceals Consequences of Behaviour
When a parent consistently bails out their child from negative situations and disallows consequences to occur, the child will fail to build a true understanding of real repercussions. Parents must allow their child to experience and take responsibility and face the outcome. The objective is to for a child to comprehend that their behaviour effects themselves and others too. If a parent is constantly in the way of preventing the consequences then the child will fail to learn the lesson.
- Underdeveloped Problem Solving Skills
Problem solving skills are fundamental life skill. If parents are continually ironing out their child’s problem, this will inhibit the child from developing their own solutions and carrying them out. Children have to develop the knowledge of how to develop problem solving skills from a young age to find their way out of difficult situations. The intention of parents would be to help their child grow skills and as a product of that, deal with problems in their own lives as they may arise. If they always look to their parents for answers, they will stand the chance of being dependent on their parents and this will discourage an essential skill needed to subsist.
HOW TO STOP BEING A HELICOPTER PARENT?
- Don’t do what your kids are capable of themselves.
- Trust that you’ve prepared them with the skills they need.
- Stop taking responsibility for your child’s action.
- Have them learn from their own experiences.
- Let children struggle and allow them to be disappointed.
By Parents Avenue Sabah’s Staff Writer