A helicopter parent is the one who tries to over-control his child’s life at every stage, especially education. While helicopter parenting is acceptable to a certain extent to discipline a child, its extremity can affect a child’s growth. Let us understand how.
What is Helicopter Parent
The term ‘ helicopter parent’ was first introduced in 1969 in Dr. Haim Ginott's book Parents & Teenagers, where one of the teens described his mother constantly hovering over him like a helicopter. Helicopter parents become so involved with the child’s life that they simply can’t let go of their child and take full control of the child’s every experience, action, success and failure. In the process, this type of obsessive parenting style interferes with the child’s ability to grow independently.
Reasons for Helicopter Parenting
Researchers have attributed over-parenting to several reasons as mentioned below.
- Helicopter parents feel that their child may not succeed well in his school, career and life in general without their support.
- They want their child to be an all-rounder and want to show off their ‘perfect’ child to friends and family.
- They want to compete with other peer parents and prove to self and others that they are the best parents too.
- They feel that lack of appropriate guidance may fend off the educational or job opportunities for their kids.
- They are afraid that their child may hurt himself physically or emotionally if they don’t interfere at the right time.
- Parents, who have been neglected or felt unloved in their childhood, may try to compensate their upbringing by over-protecting their children.
Can Helicopter Parenting Help?
Your intention to give your child proper guidance at every stage of life can go a long way in disciplining him and ensuring success for him. Children may bond well with helicopter parents and also feel secure because they have a cushion to fall upon in case of dire consequences.
However, if you end up calling your child’s school for every single or minor issue, intervene with his social life, strictly control his daily schedule or don’t give him a scope to make mistakes, then it is high time that you accept that you are being an over-protective parent and may be doing more harm than good to your child.
Disadvantages of Helicopter Parenting
Helicopter parenting can spell following problems for your child.
- He may become heavily dependent on parents for every task and decision. For instance, he may not make efforts to finish his homework until either of the parents is around for supervision.
- He may not develop problem-solving skills or learn to face real world challenges as he knows that his parents will always be there to pull him out of the adverse situations.
- He may take undue advantage of excessive pampering and may want parents to give in to every demand.
- He may not develop trust and confidence in his own skills and judgment. As a result, he will constantly seek parents’ approval in everything – whether it is taking up a new hobby or choosing new friends.
- He may develop a sense of fear towards his parents for failing and may withdraw himself emotionally from parents.
Tips to Avoid Being a Helicopter Parent
Parents must learn to respect their child’s identity and understand that a child will not get an opportunity to learn from his mistakes. Here are some useful tips to avoid becoming hovering parents.
- Think of your role in your child’s life as a coach. You can provide guidance and structure for the child. Let him work on his own on his strengths and weaknesses.
- Set an acceptable limit for a particular behaviour, action or mistakes. This will automatically set an expected standard from the parents for the child.
- Let the child take responsibility for his actions – he must know the good and bad consequences of his decisions.
- Help the child to accept failures and explain to him that what really matters is that he learns from his mistakes and does not repeat them in the future.
- Set up a daily schedule for the child, so that he knows what tasks he has to do and does not have to depend solely on you.
- Focus on imparting skills to a child for completing a task rather than doing it yourself for him.
- Evaluate how you felt as a child when your parents used to interfere with your life and try to empathize with your child accordingly.
It can be tricky to find out if you are really being a helicopter parent. The key is to know the difference between supporting your child and warding him off the real dangers versus continuously intervening in your child’s independence.