Are you a Helicopter Parent? – Some Convincing Reasons Not to Overprotect Your Kid
When our kids hurt, we feel it, too. Parents go out of their way to protect young ones from all forms of mental, physical, and emotional harm. But is this always the best choice? Emotional regulation is an essential life skill. Being too protective gives children fewer opportunities to practice emotional self-regulation. Despite good intentions, overprotective or “helicopter” parents may be robbing their children of the chance to develop resilience and healthy coping skills. How can you tell if your urge to keep your children safe may be doing more harm than good? What are the psychological and social benefits of giving your young ones more unsupervised freedom?
What Is a Helicopter Parent?
The phrase “helicopter parent” was coined by Dr. Haim G. Ginott in his 1988 publication “Between Parent and Teenager”. These parents were observed to hover over their children like a helicopter floating just above the ground. Helicopter parents spend a lot of time and effort planning, directing, and controlling their children’s activities. Some defining behaviors include:
- Being overattentive to their child’s desires. This indulgence takes many forms. It can be the mom who angrily yells at the referee when her daughter gets called on a justified foul or the dad who believes his son’s failing grades are due to bad or personally malicious instructors.
- Control of the child’s physical space. Helicopter parents focus on reducing potential sources of harm from their child’s environment. This could mean limiting the types of food they eat, restricting play and leisure activities, or handpicking the child’s friends and associates.
- Obsession with the child’s life. These parents often equate their own success with their child’s accomplishments. Parents may pressure young ones to excel in academics, sports, or other endeavors. Some will go to lengths that are unhealthy for both parent and child.
The helicopter parent impulse can be driven by fear of consequences, anxiety, adult peer pressure, and overcompensation for their own unhappy childhood.
Are You a Helicopter Parent?
It’s a parent’s job to protect their child. How can you know when you’ve gone too far? Ask yourself these questions.
- Do you insist on handling personal conflicts your child has with schoolmates, teachers, and peers?
- Have you ever worked on a school project for your child after they’ve gone to bed to ensure they get a passing grade?
- Do you limit your child’s activities for safety reasons even when they’re age-appropriate and within the child’s ability?
- Have you denied permission for your child to go on school trips or participate in other leisure activities because something bad might happen?
If you answer yes to these questions, it’s worthwhile to re-examine your parenting style. Children of helicopter parents experience problems in adulthood as a side effect, including emotional issues, a sense of entitlement that leads to chronic disappointment, and long-term health problems.
Giving your child more freedom helps them learn vital self-control techniques and develop executive functioning. Re-evaluate your parenting philosophies to ensure your child grows into the strongest possible version of themselves.