Hovering or hands-off? Knowing you might be adopting a helicopter parenting style can help you adapt and empower your child to grow into a self-confident and resilient young adult.
Although she would never admit it, my friend Susan is a classic helicopter parent. She thinks it’s important to set up her daughter for success in life, and she does everything she can to pave the way. Some examples: she makes sure her daughter is assigned to the “best teacher” every year; she calls other parents to work through arguments that have occurred on the playground; she “helps with” (does) difficult math homework; and she doesn’t allow her daughter to learn how to skateboard because it’s too dangerous.
Helicopter parenting can be viewed as being overly protective and controlling, to a degree that is excessive for the child’s age.
Sound familiar? If so, there are a few behaviours to look out for that are common to helicopter parents. Helicopter parents tend to:
While it’s natural for parents to do whatever they can to keep their children happy and safe, research shows that children of helicopter parents are less able to regulate their emotions and control their behaviour, which in turn leads to problems at school. Over time, they struggle to make friends and struggle academically. The negative impact of helicopter parenting can be seen from preschool age, and can affect people well into their adulthood.
Children need to be given age-appropriate space to learn and grow on their own, without their parents hovering over them. This gives them the opportunity to discover their passions, tolerate disappointment and failure, advocate for themselves, and internalize the relationship between hard work, persistence, and reaching their goals.
Letting children struggle, allowing them to be disappointed, and helping them tolerate and bounce back from failure are crucial for their development. In the long-run, this helps create self-confident and resilient young adults.
Talking to friends, loved ones, and healthcare professionals such as counsellors can help as you explore different parenting strategies and discover what works for you and your family.
Contact Sprout to learn more.