Bright Side

What Helicopter Parenting Is and How It Can Damage Your Kid’s Life

When their kid fights with another kid on the playground, the first thing they do is call the other kids’ mom. They are so focused on their kid’s achievements that they help their college-aged children to write their essays and do their projects. They are overprotective parents, hovering above their children like helicopters and controlling their every move, and there’s no way to hide from their watchful eye.

Here at Bright Side we’ve found out what the typical features of helicopter parenting are, and why it can be dangerous for children. Read our article to the end to learn what you can do to switch from the helicopter parenting style, if you are that type of parent now.

What a helicopter parent is and how to tell whether you are one

The term “helicopter parenting” was introduced by Dr. Haim Ginott in 1969. This term is used to define over-protective parents who control each and every aspect of their kids’ lives so thoroughly, it seems they are hovering over their children like helicopters. Other terms used to describe this phenomenon are “bulldozer parenting” and “lawnmower parenting.”

According to experts, helicopter parenting is a popular parenting style nowadays, and one of the reasons for this is that parents want to eliminate all the possible sources of disappointment in their kids’ lives. These parents are too active when it comes to protecting their children from all possible threats, and they end up limiting their kids’ freedom to act on their own, make their own decisions, and learn from their own mistakes.

Helicopter parenting comes in different shapes and sizes. Here are some signs that will help you figure out if you are a helicopter parent:

  • You keep your child “on a leash.” You literally become a shadow to your child and keep following them everywhere from school to their friends’ birthday parties. When someone asks your kid a question, it’s you who answers it.
  • You walk in your kid’s shoes. Instead of letting your child solve their problems themselves (with a necessary bit of your assistance), you rush to do everything on your own. If your child has a conflict with their classmate, you call the teacher or the parents of the other child instead of teaching your kid how to behave in these situations.
  • You can’t let your child fail. You want your child to succeed and you get so over-involved in the school life of your child, that you don’t limit yourself to just calling your kid’s teacher every once in a while. You go farther: you write their essays, do their projects, and you make sure your kid gets the teacher, the coach, or the class that you think will help them succeed in their studies.
  • You make life too safe for them. You firmly believe that your kid should have the training wheels on their bike, no matter how old they are, and you almost have a heart attack when your child is going on a trip with their class. Over-protective parents can’t relax and they keep seeing a fatal threat for their children in everyone and everything.

Why helicopter parenting can be harmful for your child

If you ask over-protective parents why they’ve chosen this strategy to raise their kids, they will most likely tell you they do it because they love their children and want to make their lives happier. But in fact, this approach to child rearing causes a situation where kids simply don’t know how to cope with failures and frustration in their adult life.

Studies have shown that helicopter parenting can lead to school-related burnout in college students. Another bit of research has linked being raised by hovering parents to high levels of depression and a low satisfaction with life.

Kids of over-involved parents don’t have a chance to learn from their own mistakes and fail to make important decisions in their adult life. In addition, helicopter parenting gives kids a signal that their parents don’t believe their children can do things on their own, which can later result in low self-esteem.

What you can do to quit helicopter parenting for good

If you found that you are “guilty” of some of the signs of helicopter parenting that we mentioned above, there are some effective steps you can take to change your parenting style:

  • Re-consider your kid’s schedule and make sure there is enough time and space for your child to relax and do whatever they want. Some free time with no scheduled things to do will boost your kid’s imagination and help them decide what they truly want to do.
  • Trust your kids more and give them some daily chores to do, that are age appropriate.

  • Let your child fail and learn from their own mistakes. This is an important part of growing and learning that will help your kid cope with failure and disappointment in their adult life. This step will also help you as a parent to accept your kid’s mistakes.

  • Learn to step aside and let your kid take risks. Learning by doing will raise your child’s self-esteem. Let them know you are always there to help when they need you, but don’t interfere with their every decision.

  • Consult an expert in parenting or a family psychologist if you feel you can’t find a good parenting style by yourself.

What do you think of helicopter parenting? If you have kids, what is your parenting style and why have you chosen it?