You think you’re just being protective of your child but you could be doing more harm than good…
You may not even realise it but you could be your toddler’s shadow. You tell him every single thing he should do and how to do it — even when it comes to the things he knows how to do himself. You may be the kind of parent who (literally!) does everything for your teenager: from cleaning his school shoes, and packing his school bag to checking with his tuition teacher on how to do his homework.
The term Helicopter Parenting is described as a style of parenting whereby parents are overly focused on their children and too obsessed with their child’s life. This phrase was first used in a book by Child Psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott, who wrote about a teen who complained about a mother ‘hovering’ over him, like a helicopter.
According to Parenting.com, parenting information that is easily accessible via the internet can influence parents to become overprotective and too controlling. These parents are exposed to information about all the scary and fearful possibilities that could adversely affect a child such as illnesses, crime and mingling with the wrong peers. While being aware about the possible dangers is important, being overprotective can be very damaging.
Why do you ‘hover’?
Some parents might feel like they can’t help it and that being a helicopter parent is the ‘best’ way to raise a child. There are a few possible reasons why you may feel this way.
First, you may find it necessary to be in control of your child’s life because you do not want your child to feel neglected. Parents who felt unloved, neglected or ignored as a child might feel the need to protect their children from feeling the same way. Hence, you give your child all the attention in the world.
Aside from that, some parents feel pressured by the actions of other helicopter parents. You may feel guilty for not ‘being involved’ in your child’s life, unlike the parents of your child’s peers who seems to know about every single step their child takes. Seeing other parents being overinvolved can make you feel like you need to do the same.
Ask yourself, are the decisions made for your child influenced by fear of what might happen? If the answer is yes, this is a sign that you could be a helicopter parent.
Although your intentions may be good, being a helicopter parent could lead to negative consequences that can affect your child’s development and future. The possible consequences of helicopter parenting include:
No independence – Doing everything for your child including tying his shoelaces, packing his lunches and washing the dishes, even when your child is capable of doing so, can prevent your child from becoming self-reliant and independent.
Decreased self-confidence – Children with helicopter parents, may feel like mum and dad do not have trust them. This affects their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Poor coping skills – Life has its ups and downs and if parents are always there to back a child up when he falls or clean up every single mess that the child is involved with, he will not develop coping skills. This could result in the child having a hard time when dealing with their own stressful situations in the future.
You may think that being a helicopter parent is the best way to give your child everything he deserves. However, researchers have proven that helicopter parenting will harm rather than help your child. In a study conducted by professors from Brigham Young University in 2012, it was found that students who had controlling parents were less engaged in the classroom. Students with helicopter parents were also found to have lower self-esteem. The study explored if characteristics such as support from parents and warmth in later years could ‘neutralise’ the negative effects of helicopter parenting but found that it did not make a difference.
So, how can you care and love your child without overdoing it? The key to finding the right balance is to focus on guiding and teaching your child. Give your child the opportunity to learn and earn life skills by allowing your child to feel disappointed and experience failures. From there, guide your child and help him work through these situations. This helps your child to build confidence and also strengthens your child’s physical and emotional capabilities.
If you find yourself being a helicopter parent, make an effort to loosen up and shake off those chopper blades! Enjoy parenting by being your child’s teacher and guide instead of a safety net or tool.
Are you a helicopter parent?
Take this short quiz to find out if you have the traits of a helicopter parent!
- Do you feel obliged to provide your child with the trendiest outfits, latest gadgets and the best of the best, without ever asking your child to work for it?
- Are you always staying up late at night to help your child catch up with his schoolwork?
- Are you always giving in to every request your child makes because you’re afraid that he’ll be disappointed?
- Did you just scold that child at the playground, for cutting the line when your child was just about to get on the slide?
- Are you going through your child’s homework, erasing the wrong answers and correcting them yourself, to ensure that your child doesn’t feel disappointed about getting his homework marked ‘wrong’?
If your answered ‘yes’ to 3 or more questions, this could be a sign that you’re a helicopter parent.
Here’s some help…
If you’re having difficulty stopping yourself from being a helicopter parent, guidance from an expert can help you. Your children may also need some help coping with the effects of helicopter parenting. Here are psychologists you can get in touch with:
Selina Ding (Ding Child & Adult Psychology Centre)
Tel: 03- 7727 6628
Jessie Foo (Sunway Medical Centre)
Tel: 03- 7491 9191
Tel: 03-7956 8144 or 03-7956 8145