Childcare Education Family Parenting

The dangers of helicopter parenting

Helicopter Parenting
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Do you constantly overlook your child’s development? Then you may be a helicopter parent.

We get it: you’re worried about your children’s well-being. Who wouldn’t be? But research proves that being overly protective to shield your offspring will guarantee seriously negative results on their development.

What is helicopter parenting?

By now a popular phrase, helicopter parenting refers to parents who pays excessively close attention to everything the child does. This includes never letting them out of their sight and not allowing them to explore the world on their own. Like a helicopter, they constantly hover overhead. The phrase was coined by Foster Cline and Jim Fay in Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility. It became widespread when the oldest Millennials reached college age in the early 2000s. Around then, parents started complaining to professors about marks their children received.

Helicopter parenting today

With the recent popularisation of the term ‘generation snowflake’ to describe Millennials, criticism of helicopter parenting has become a popular topic in current discussions. The Sun published an article discussing the term, where it came from, and what its long-term effects on children are. Metro recently published an article in which it acknowledged the dangers, but still said that many parents find it difficult to resist being one. The BBC even developed an online test to help you determine whether you are a helicopter parent, in case you’re unsure.

What are the negative effects of helicopter parenting?

In a recent study by the American Psychological Association, researchers found that the effects are almost entirely negative. Children with helicopter parents become overwhelmingly defiant and frustrated. By being less able to control their emotions, those children were less capable in dealing with distressing situations. The were also unable in conducting themselves properly and adjusting to new situations, such as at school. This means that being an overcontrolling parent can have a direct negative impact on their school performance.

Furthermore, according to a 2016 study from Florida State University, children with helicopter parents are more likely to suffer from health problems, have a tendency towards self-entitlement and are less likely to be self-sustainable due to the lack of independence from a young age.

How to avoid becoming an overcontrolling parent

The worries are completely understandable. But the guaranteed end results of helicopter parenting are detrimental and will rob them of the necessary self-sustainability required in adult life. Trust your children, give them more independence, and let them surprise you how well they develop with a little bit of freedom. It’s possible to find the right balance between caring for a child and giving them freedom at the right time – such as letting them use public transport on routes they use often and letting them choose their own clothes from an early age. It’s important to take the age and skills of the individual child into account.