You see them everywhere you go - on the playground, at school or when you’re out shopping. Helicopter parents are the ones following their child as they go up and down the playground slide or perhaps they’re constantly correcting their child before they’ve even had a chance to make a mistake. Over controlling, over protective, or over perfect are the traits associated with helicopter parenting.
The term “helicopter parent” was first referenced in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969 book Parents and Teenagers. In the book Ginott discusses how parents hover over their teens, much like helicopters, and do not allow them to live their life and make mistakes. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as over parenting your children. Part of living means making mistakes and learning from them. It’s important, as parents, to allow your children to make their own path in life. This will help them personalize their individuality amongst others and give them a real perspective on what living life is really about.
There are a number of reasons why parents feel compelled to helicopter parent. In some cases, parents are fearful of the consequences that will come from being unhappy or struggling in life. It’s important for parents to understand that failure is part of life and can be a resourceful method to learning in life. As long as a situation isn’t life threatening, then it may be okay for parents to sit back and allow their children to cultivate their own reasoning and decision making process.
Anxiety is another element that triggers the emotions within parents because they ultimately want to protect their child(ren) from everything that’s terrible or hurtful in the world. Unfortunately, this emotion can cause parents and children to make up feelings that do not exist because of the fear that they could exist. Anxiety can lead parents to overcompensate with their children because of their own upbringing or the parental methods being used around them. The overcompensation forces parents to give an excessive amount of attention both consciously and subconsciously.
Peer pressure is another element that causes parents to use the helicopter parenting style. Parents observe other parents and feel pressure to keep up with the status quo therefore, these individuals over compensate by immersing themselves into their children’s lives in every dynamic possible. When in reality, every situation is different and every child requires something different as well.
While the intentions of helicopter parents are good in the end they tend to lose perspective of their good nature and cause the child to bring on feelings that influence fears and decisions based on the insecurities that their parent has casted onto them. A child may decrease confidence and self-esteem, under develop within their coping skills and suffer from anxiety issues that can bring on depression as they get older. It’s imperative for parents to be able to differentiate between engaged parenting and helicopter parenting.
Children must go through basic struggles, disappointment and failure because it helps them develop strong problem solving skills and keeps them in tune with reality. Parents need to recognize age limitations and adjust their parental decisions based on their child’s age. While it’s okay to help your three-year-old clean up their room it’s not okay to your ten-year-old with the same task. As parents we must teach our children responsibility and respect by giving them freedom to make decisions and learn from their mistakes. Parents can give their children feedback and provide them with structured systems to model their actions but its imperative that they regulate and balance emotions and lessons.
Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs you’ll ever have because there is no right or wrong way to handle situations and in many cases you have to act while in the moment. But, keep in mind in the grand scheme of things that you’re not consistently hovering or over parenting your child. It’s important for children to make mistakes and learn lessons on their own because those instances will provide them with key elements for the future.