Good morning, mamas! I read something not too long ago on helicopter parents and felt the need to share some insights with you. You may have read one of my recent posts on parenting called Gentle Parenting, which goes hand in hand with Helicopter Parenting (in my opinion). You can read about Gentle Parenting here why it works and everything you need to know. Today, I want to talk about Helicopter Parenting, what it is, how it hurts the well being of your child and why you need to stop.
I know this is not for everyone, and I know that some parents are helicopter parents unconsciously (for some part at least), while others are with intention, and some just have so much anxiety and believe helicoter parenting to be the best way. Today, I invite you to read with an open mind and think about your child’s needs first (not yours), and what they might be feeling (not you). Phew! Now we can dig in 🙂
What is a Helicopter Parent?
The name itself says it. It’s a parent that is overprotective of their child. You are not letting your child experience anything on their own, without hovering over. You’re essentially smothering them.
Somehow we cross the line of being a supportive and positive parent to being an overprotective not-letting-our-child-do-anything-on-their-own type of a parent.
Personally, I don’t think anyone sets out to be a helicopter parent (there is always an exception), but unbeknownst to us it creeps up on us.
For example, your child runs over to do rock climbing at the park, and you know it’s steep, you know he may be scared, but you see him/her going for it, fearlessly yet you say “oh no, you cannot do that. You’re going to fall down and hurt yourself, see how big this is.” Child gets upset, maybe throws a tantrum, and walks away disappointed and hurt. The parent, in this case, happy and content the child obeyed. But, you missed the big picture here. Perhaps he was ready, even though you weren’t ready for it. I personally believe that kids know when they are ready for what (see my potty training post here). So, instead you should let him/her try the rock climbing, stand on the bottom in case they need help. Encourage them, tell them they are doing great and they can do it. They will do it. And, even if they don’t you supported them and they always keep on trying.
You are a Helicopter Parent if….
You see your child going for the monkey bars at the playground and you immediately run over to tell them that they cannot do that because they’ll fall down and hurt themselves. Me on the other hand, let’s them try it and see for themselves. I standby to see if they’ll need help.
You see your child trying to get a toy another child is playing with at the library, but they don’t want to share so you go over there trying to convince that child to share with your child. Me on the other hand, let’s them figure it out on their own. After all, they are going to run into this situation everywhere.
Your child tries to put on their shoes but gets frustrated because they cannot. So you run over and put their shoes on. Me on the other hand, shows him how I put on my shoes and tell them to try again and again. And I let them try until they can. V & M were about 3 when they learned on their own.
You see your child get into an argument of with another child and immediately run over to resolve it for them, because you’re a good parent and don’t want your child to be bullied or be a bully. Me on the other hand, observes from distance and lets them solve on their own (if about the same age), chances are they are old enough to figure it out on their own. If I see it starting to get out of control then I will come over and usually, I say you’re old enough to figure this out on your own 🙂 To this date, it has worked just fine.
Your fifteen month old still doesn’t know how to go up and down the stairs so you carry them up and down each time. Me on the other hand, with the little patience I have I walk with A every single time up and down the stairs in our condo building. Now, almost twenty months she is going up and down the stairs like a pro!
You clean up after them. You clean up their toys for them. You make their bed. You put their things away, etc. If your kids are old enough to make their bed, put their toys away, etc….. they should be doing it! This teaches them responsibility. You doing it all for them teaches them that there will always be someone (when in fact there won’t) doing things for them. Teach them to be independent, not dependent. My boys make their bed every morning, and they alternative who makes little sisters bed every other day. They put their jammies away, they put on their own clothes and shoes. They sure pick up their own toys after playing. I help, but they do majority (like 95% of it).
Why you need to stop being a Helicopter Parent?
Naturally, as parents we always want to keep our children safe and healthy, but they also need their space to learn and grow on their own. You have to look at it from the child’s perspective too. If you constantly hover over them, they’ll never be able to handle anything on their own. But, if you let them figure things out on their own and just watch from the sideline then they will learn to do things on their own.
I shared a post on Instagram about parents that run to help their children whenever they get frustrated trying to do something themselves rather than letting them figure it out on their own and the response was overwhelming. Some parents agreed, others didn’t, some got discouraged, etc…. you can see the debatable post here.
I believe in Gentle Parenting, and at the same time don’t consider myself a Helicopter Parent. In fact, I believe that being a Helicopter Parent actually hurts your child in the long run. No parent intentionally wants to hurt (at least I would hope so) their child, but you can unintentionally truly hurt them by constantly hovering over.
Consequences of Helicopter Parenting
Undeveloped coping skills. For example, if we are at the park and the boys want to play with someone else or join a group that’s already playing I let them walk up to them and ask if they can play. Sometimes it’s a “Yes”, and other times it’s a “No”. Eitherway, they learn to cope with a dissappointment, or acceptance.
No confidence and low self-esteem. I constantly talk about confidence, wether body positive confidence or letting your child figure things out on their own simply because I believe it is so important. If you constantly do everything for your child how are they ever going to have enough confidence to try it themselves.
Undeveloped life skills. Like, earlier I mentioned about M trying to button his shorts and getting frustrated because he couldn’t do it. I kept telling him “great job, you almost got it” and to try it again. Instead of running over and doing it for him. If we constantly do everything for them, how are they supposed to learn, how are they suppose to grow. The goal is to raise independent children, that have the ability to solve their own problems.
I don’t know about you, but I can recognize when a child has anxiety, or is not socially able to cope, or a child that feels out of place when we are out at the park, playground, at the pool, etc. I would never judge, or say someone is a bad parent. The reason I am sharing this is because we as parents have a duty to help our kids grow into confident, kind and independent children. And, it comes down to this – do you want your child to be succeed in life on their own, or do you want them to always depend on you or someone else?
At the same time, when there is things like homework involved it’s okay to be involved and ensure they have completed their homework. But you don’t need to sit right next to them and tell them every step of the way, and point out if they didn’t make something perfectly. Don’t point out their imperfections, they are learning so instead tell them how much they have improved or say something like, “I bet if you write your name ten more times it will look great.” Something that encourages growth, rather than making them feel awful.
If you tend to be a helicopter parent, I would definitely suggest to back off a bit to ensure you’re giving your child room to grow, learn new skills, be confident, independent and learn to cope with disappointment and failure. I know giving up that control can give you anxiety, but you have to do it for the better of your child. Give them a bit of freedom, whether they are two years old, six years old or ten years old.
Do you ever wonder that by over-helping your child you make them feel like they cannot do it themselves?
I hope you found this post helpful and informative. I hope it made you think. And, I hope that as a parent you continue to focus on your child’s development. And, I sure hope you don’t misunderstand the point here.
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