Every parent wants to be the best for their child. While this seems normal for all parents, some of them are going too far by not giving enough space for the children to grow and learn by themselves. Many parents unconsciously practice helicopter parenting style and yet they don’t realize this technique is somehow bad for the children.
It is not uncommon that parents are trying to be supportive so their children feel encouraged and confident. Being supportive is good, but taking it to another level makes them helicopter parents.
What is helicopter parenting definition? What causes this phenomenon and how to avoid it? Find the answers below!
What Is Helicopter Parenting?
Helicopter parenting style has been around for a while but only a few parents are aware of it. This method can be described as a parenting in which parents are over-involved in a child’s life.
It is also known as cosseting or hyper-involvement. The‘helicopter’ term comes from the illustration that these parents hover over their children. We can say that this method is the opposite of neglectful parenting style.
Parents may have different involvement in a child’s life, either physically, psychologically, or both. Many times, physical involvement seems normal as many parents do it.
But it’s not uncommon for helicopter parents to give excessive care and attention so the child cannot learn from trial and error. For example, these parents don’t let their child to build a sandcastle because it can hurt their eyes.
Meanwhile, psychological involvement is more serious than physical involvement as it potentially causes worse effects to a child’s psychological development. A child who is always helped by his parent is less likely to find difficulties in life.
It gives bad consequences especially when he grows up and his parents cannot give their hand anymore.
Miscasting parenting style often causes problems in teenagers. These parents have a strong urge to know anything about teen’s life, such as academics, friends, or even love life.
This is because they want to make sure everything is fine and nothing can hurt their ‘little baby’. However, most teens covet freedom and it often causes conflict between teenagers and parents.
What Causes Helicopter Parenting?
In most cases, parenting style is the reflection of how the parent will treat the kids and it is also the case for helicopter parenting.
It has a variety of causes, most of which are associated with past problems or deep-seated issues. The possible causes of helicopter parenting may include:
1. Raised with Similar Style
Parents who were raised with this child raising style are more likely to practice a similar parenting style, especially when they don’t have sufficient insight about good parenting style.
Chances are they will mimic how their parents treated them, because they think that their parents did a great job. It is more likely to happen when they feel comfortable with parents’ over-involvement.
As the opposite of the first cause, overcompensation commonly occurs when parents did not receive enough love from their own parents. As a result, they swore that their child would not be treated this way.
Some parents go too far and they end up giving excessive attention and care. This will lead to the helicopter parenting style.
3. Fears about Future
Fears about future can lead to hyper-involvement in child’s life. Some parents believe that child’s future is determined by what the child does today.
As a consequence, parents supervise everything the child does to make sure they won’t struggle in life. These parents commonly fear of failure and uncertainty in the future.
4. Environment Pressure
Environment plays a significant role in determining parenting style. Being surrounded by helicopter parents will increase the chance of practicing this style.
Unless they have a strong base of parenting knowledge, chances are they will follow the stream. This is commonly known as peer pressure.
Parents who feel anxious when seeing their child injured or disappointed have a greater chance to practice this method.
This is because they will do everything to protect their children and prevent bad things from happening. The truth, disappointment, and a bit pain help a child become more resilient and stronger.
Helicopter Parenting Benefits
This parenting style is controversial but it is not completely bad. There are some benefits for both parents and children, even though it is not enough to justify that helicopter parenting is worth practicing.
Here are a couple of things that may be called as benefits of being over-involved in a child’s life:
1. Fewer Injuries
Supervising the child all the time can prevent them from being injured. This is because helicopter parents often prevent the children from exploring their surroundings.
Playing safely with fewer challenges means fewer bruises, bumps and injuries. However, this is only a temporary benefit.
2. Greater Happiness for Parents
Despite the controversy, a helicopter parents is believed to give greater happiness to parents. Parents who apply this method are much happier and feel more meaningful. And yet, this feeling might not be extended to the children.
Helicopter Parenting Drawbacks
Hovering over children may have a few benefits but they are temporary. Fewer injuries can be a good thing for children, but it’s only temporary.
Related Article: Pros and Cons of Authoritarian Parenting Style
Or, a parent’s happiness to being involved in a child’s life can turn into regret when they find the children grow as a dependent person. Here’s a closer look at the disadvantages of practicing helicopter parenting style.
1. Children are Less Resilient
Children are naturally active and curious. These traits often come together with an urge to explore their surroundings so that they can find and learn new things.
In the case of helicopter parenting, children don’t have a chance to try something new without being supervised by parents. They prevent children from doing challenging activities such as climbing, rolling, or running free.
Skipping these things during childhood can influence their mental and physical development. Children who are always hovered by their parents become less resilient than those who are raised with free-range style.
2. Children Cannot Solve Their Own Problem
Kids need to learn how to solve problem by themselves. It helps them build problem-solving skills that will be useful for their future.
Unluckily, the intervention of helicopter parents make children lack this skill. As consequence, children find difficulties in solving their own problems even the simple ones.
3. Children Become Dependent
These parents do a lot of things for their children and it can make children become dependent.
When a father always helps his son to do homework or school assignment, he won’t learn how to do it by himself. Or, if a mother always helps her daughter to do the bed, she won’t be able to do it by herself.
4. Low Self-Confidence in Children
Doing too many things for children can trigger low self-esteem or low self-confidence. As they never figure out anything by themselves, they may doubt their abilities in doing something.
They may also question if they can make their own decisions. This feeling can get more serious and lead to depression.
5. Entitlement Issue
Children with helicopter parents have a risk of developing an entitlement issue. As they always get what they want, these children believe they have privileges.
They also think that other people should treat them the way their parents do. In some cases, the children become rude and hostile.
6. Broken Parent-Child Relationship
Some children, especially teens, aren’t likely to accept this parenting style. Teens need freedom and want to make their own choice.
Helicopter parents who constantly check on children’s academics, friendships and movement may push the teens away. This will end up breaking parent-child relationship.
Characteristics of Helicopter Parents
Not all parents who show attention and care to their children are called helicopter parents. There are several signs that indicate helicopter parents, and yet some of them sound familiar. It isn’t difficult to identify helicopter parents through these signs.
- You know every platform your child is on along with the passwords.
- You don’t let your child run free on the backyard without supervision.
- Incessant worry about child’s field trip.
- Wake up at 3am to rewrite child’s essay.
- Your 10-year old child has training wheels on his bike.
- Do daughter’s bed and never think to let her do it.
- Answer every question asked to your child.
- Ask your child and her friends to play in the bedroom instead of in the park or playground.
- Don’t let your child to walk to the store.
- Talk to child’s teacher to make sure your child has a special attention.
- Choose friends for your child.
- Always intervene every child’s problem.
Those are only several signs of helicopter parents. Some parents may have different ways to shower their children with love and attention that leads to helicopter parenting style.
How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting
Now that you know the signs of hyper-involvement in child’s life, it’s time to review your parenting style. If you suspect you have some of those signs, it might be time to retreat.
But we don’t recommend to change your parenting style drastically as it can cause another problem. Instead, do it gradually and make sure your child is accustomed to your new style.
Here are some steps to give more room for your child:
1. Ask Your Children’s Opinion
Don’t hesitate to ask your children’s opinion. Ask them if you have been controlling or hovering over them. If they feel so, ask them how you can make them feel comfortable.
2. Give Breathing Room Gradually
The next step is giving your children breathing room gradually. Take them to the park and allow them to run free. Just make sure you can keep them insight. Or, you can trust your teens to hang out with friends without calling him every 10 minutes.
3. Find Other Activities
Helicopter parenting style requires parents to spend much of their time to oversee child’s activities. If you want to pull back, reclaim your time and find other activities. You can try a new hobby or develop yourself through books.
How to Avoid Helicopter Parenting
Giving a little more freedom to your children does not make you a bad parent. You can still show your affection, love and attention without hovering.
There are some things to do to make sure your children grow independently yet receive enough love from their parents. Here’s a closer look at how to avoid helicopter parenting style:
1. Comprehend the Long-Term Effect of Helicopter Parenting
If you don’t want your child to be dependent upon you all the time, there is none other choice than avoiding this parenting style. Ensure yourself that your excessive compassionate can damage their future.
2. Let your Children Solve Their own Problem.
If they are old enough to handle the problem, fight the urge to help and intervene. Let your children to develop their problem-solving skills so they can be tougher and stronger. It also helps them overcome greater problem they may face in the future.
3. Let your Children Make a Decision
In helicopter parenting style, children don’t have a chance to make their own decision. To avoid this, it’s necessary to let your children make a decision according to their age. For instance, let them choose their hobby or choose their own friends.
4. No Incessant Worries when Your Child Fails
Failure isn’t always bad. It may be hard for parents but it can be a great teacher for children. It gives them a priceless lesson to work harder and cope with disappointment. Besides, failure can make children more resilient.
5. Let your Children Learn Life Skills
You don’t have to do anything for your children. It’s good to teach them some life skills such as cleaning the house, doing the dishes or cooking.
You can also teach them how to wash their own clothes. Doing simple things can help develop their confidence. As they grow up, they can be more independent than you think.
Helicopter parenting style isn’t a new thing. Parents who want to shower their children with love and affection can end up hovering over their children and practicing helicopter parenting. This style has a few benefits but the drawbacks outweigh the advantages. We don’t recommend this method as it can cause long-term effects such as low self-confidence, entitlement issue, and many others.