The merit for coining the term helicopter parenting goes to Dr.Hiam Ginnot, in his 1969 book, Parents and Teenagers. In his interactions with teens, he would come across them likening their parents as hovering like a helicopter over them, a form of parental anxiety disorder. Other similar terms used are bulldoze parenting, lawnmower parenting or a cosseting parent. A 2010 study has concluded that overprotective parents can impact children by prolonging childhood and adolescence. The confusion among parents is that they wish to be involved parents but end up smothering their child. These guidelines will help out in curbing this negative habit and understanding it better.
Pointers of A Helicopter Parent
- Irrational fear of terrible consequences
- Anxiety apprehensions
- Peer pressure from other parents
- Perceived negative impact of social media
- Drug use and opioid abuse
- Barring a child from making age-appropriate choices
- Tidying up a teen’s room. It is viewed as an invasion of their space.
- Being the negotiator between your teen and his friends on their conflicts
- Interfering about diet and exercise
- Obsessively texting the child when at school or out of the home.
- Attempt to prevent them from failing a task
- Reading your child’s journal or diary.
The Pitfalls of Helicopter Parenting
1. More Health Problems
Helicopter kids are more likely to be beset by health disorders in adulthood. Being victims of being told when to sleep, what to eat and when to exercise, they have never been making conscious decisions. So left to themselves without being prodded, they let their bodies go. This finding is from a 2016 study from Florida Stae University.
2. Sense of Entitlement
Being the apple eye of a doting helicopter parent, children deduce erroneously that they are extra special. That this does not go away when they are 18 is an area of concern. Researchers from the University of Arizona, found an escalation among helicopter kids, that they are entitled to. They tend to rationalize obliquely; Because I deserve it, I’m owed the best. A break now and then is my birthright.
3. Emotional Complications
Helicopter parenting effects are sadly impeding helicopter teens from handling emotional stress of any kind. Parents cheered them up whenever they felt low when angry parents calmed them down. The longtime fallout is that they tend to lack the ability to counter emotional conflicts. Another study, conducted by the University of Mary Washington, Virginia in 2013 uncovered statistics that helicopter children are more likely to be depressed and rate the overall satisfaction of their lives as poor.
4. Dependence On Medication
Helicopter children have a low threshold of endurance when it comes to dealing with discomfort. The parents have been the buffer, shielding their children from pain and any form of hardship. Helicopter children also are attuned to immediate gratification. Hence, the fallback on medications. Researchers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2011 inferred from their findings that those students with overtly supervisory parents, lean towards anxiety and depression combined with the use of medication for the alleviation of these maladies. The associated dangers can lead to the consumption of pain killers.
5. Anxiety and Depression
A rather distressing effect of helicopter parenting is to throttle the skills of their children to function independently, a necessity for normal development in a child. The parents have already sown the seed of doubt that without them, the child cannot cope. So when the child strikes out on his own, they are unable to cope with normal daily challenges. As a result of not being nurtured in functioning independently, or, even conversely being subjected to perfectionist standards, they are beset by problems of anxiety, low self-esteem, depression and a lack of confidence, any of which calls for professional help.
6. Drain On Self-Confidence
Another grave fallout on over-smothering a child is robbing them of confidence. Building confidence is the net result of making mistakes, overcoming obstacles by yourself and the process of constructive guidance by parents. The natural and normal exercise of growing up inculcates and equips a child. Helicopter children are constantly in fear of failure and disappointing others. This takes a toll on mental health.
7. Meanness and Aggression
Extreme parental control brings about an unwarranted change in a child; the tendency to be mean and hostile towards other children. Asserting dominance by bullying is a way to regain control of their lives. When relating to peers, irritability and a lack of patience overcome them.
8. Effect On Brain Development
The underlying involvement in helicopter parenting is to make all decisions on behalf of the child. Problem-solving and decision making are key components for brain development. The area of the brain dealing with these is the prefrontal part of the brain. It is fully developed at age 25. However, it’s behavior is similar to a muscle, and will not grow fully with long term effects if deprived of stimulation such as by problem-solving, decision making. Failing and falling and figuring out how to do it better next time enhances the connectivity and efficacy of this part of the brain. Helicopter parents by doing all this for you leave you stunted and ill-equipped when the time comes to leave the nest.
Curbing The Helicopter Habit
Coupled with the negativities, helicopter parenting effects seriously strain parent-child relations. As they grow up, rebelling against parental involvement can take an ugly turn. True, parents want the best for their offspring, but this approach is not the right one. The parent has to understand that this stems from a problem within themselves and consciously dominate it.
Here are some pointers on how you can strike a balance without hovering.
Be a good listener
Refrain from imposing your opinions and values. Encourage your child to tell you about his fears, concerns, and challenges. This fosters greater bonding of parent-child. Offer advice but leaving it to the child to tackle the problem. He, in turn, is comforted that he has someone to trust.
Dump The Dictator, Be The Coach
Taking decisions and solving your child’s problems is the bane of ‘in control’ parenting. Steer away from that role. Resort to open-ended questions like, so what do you feel you should do? How will that help? The creative solution should come from the child.
Don’t Doctor Natural Consequences
This teaches a child that he is responsible for his actions. It is a positive tool that will enable them to better their choices.
Do Not Manage Schedules, Tasks
Teens feel a sense of empowerment in working out on their own. Autonomy and competence train a child to stay on track. When parents go about doing homework or completing projects on their behalf, they are telling the child fine, not accomplishing a task is not important.
Failure Breeds Success
Failing once in a while is a great teacher. It will teach you to pick yourself up, work harder, try again and triumph. Boy does that taste sweet. This is a normal, inevitable part of growing up.
Validation of Feelings
It is perfectly normal to enquire and empathize with your child’s feelings. They need a healthy blend of space and emotional support. Being sympathetic and positive without the need to make it all go away is enough.
It is the natural order that a parent will nurture and be protective of a child’s needs and wants. Helicopter Parenting is not in the natural order. Some parents go a step further, lawnmowing parenting or smoothing the way for the child. Some up the ante; bulldoze parenting, the outright destruction of anything that stands in the path of their child. If it is severe, professional help may be necessary. But it is seldom so, you can work it out on your own and become a better parent by not trying so hard.