Are you a helicopter parent?
Created by Lubna Updated on Jul 11, 2020
When I first heard this term, I was a bit confused as to what does it means and why the introduction of the word "helicopter" in the sphere of parenting. Some looking around for information showed me that this term surfaced in 1969 in one of the top selling parenting books “Between Parent & Teenager” by Dr. Hain Ginott. As per the book, a helicopter parent is a typical variant who is too focused on his child, likes to place unwanted close attention to a child's life style, experiences, and problems etc. Some more synonyms for such parenting are " lawnmower parenting" and "cosseting parenting". Such parents constantly shadow their child, directing his/her behaviour, basically giving them no space.
Traits of helicopter parents
This led me to thinking how to draw a fine line between being a conscientious parent and a helicopter parent. And how many of us are helicopter parents? Before we delve into these issues, here is some more on this style of parenting
1. Such parents encounter/come forward to deal with their child's issues. They feel that by doing so they are safeguarding their child from unwanted harm and potential danger. They always keep their child well blanketed with their proactive behaviour.
2. They complete their child's assignment in the best presentable manner. They feel that by guiding them this way, they can protect their child from pitfalls.
3. They always try to participate in their child's relationships, be it friendship or any other relation for that matter. They feel they are highly experienced and can solve potential relationship issues that their child might face.
Impact of overprotective parents on their children
But it is wise to be a helicopter parenting? In being too protective of our child are we not doing his some sort of harm? Here are some points to consider:
1. Poor problem solving skills: Parents who constantly micro-manage their child's life, step-by-step by scrutinizing stages all the time, indirectly create a very depressive environment for the child. The aura for such children is always filled with fear and anxiety. Such children, with time, develop confidence in their inability to solve their own issues.
2. Running away from situations and responsibilities: Since such children have low problem-solving skills, they feel that the best solution to any problem is to run away from it as they themselves are incapable to withstand the pressure. This incapability forces them to take aid of others even for minor issues and ultimately they become victim of low self esteem, depression and such situations may also lead to mental health problems.
3. Such children face hardships even in later stages of life. They feel nervous in handling friends, job, relationship, marriages etc.
Tips to reduce Helicopter Parenting
Knowing what disservice we can cause to our child by being a helicopter parent, calls for some corrective measures. Here are some tips:
- Let the child learn from his mistakes: The time when a child starts going to preschool, parents need to take a step back and realize that for every weird activity of the child, you can't blame yourself. Let the child realize the mistake on his own.
- Teach missing skills but patiently: If any of the important skill is missing in the child, don't panic or start focusing too much on it. Rather be patient and take this as your own assignment to guide the child to learn that skill and later on sharpen it. But don't nag about his/her inability to fulfill it.
- Never ever compare your child to others: Every child is unique in his/her own ways. We just need to figure out their interest and talent and guide them to the right path. It's not required to run and fulfil all his/her wish or task every time. Once the child is back from school, don't always go and pick his/her bag. Let the child do things on his/her own. Let the child place the shoe, dress, lunch box in the appropriate place. It’s okay to prepare bed for s 3-or-4-year-old child but not of a teenage. We as parents need to understand the difference.
- Don't go ahead and solve their relationship queries. Let them figure things out on their own. This will help them analyze their hidden potential. Such children excel in the latter stages of life. We need to understand one thing: Don't prepare the road for your children, instead prepare them for the road. Guidance is really appreciative but every time or more than the normal dose, can be counterproductive.
- Parents need not always provide their inputs or enforce their views. Sometimes, it’s okay to take a step backward so that the child can move in the forward direction. This will also develop a sense of independence in him/her. Let the child experience the feelings of losing a situation or consequences of certain situations.
- Allow the child to make his own choices: Have him/her buy clothes of their favourite colours or decide what they want to eat in the next meal. Small choices like these boost decision making. 7. Do role-plays: Sometimes, keep a situation in front of them and ask them to come up with a solution. Listen to their views as well, they would feel important and this would pave way for their own self control and self confidence.
While loving our children and making an attempt to protect them from harm is a natural instinct, overdoing this instinct can sometimes be counterproductive.