What is Helicopter Parenting?

Helicopter parenting is a style of parenting in which the parents are overly focused on their children. They are too involved in their children’s experiences, especially their successes or failures.

Characteristics of a Helicopter Parent

For the helicopter parent, there are high demands put in place, with high responsiveness and warmth displayed towards these kids. They are also heavily involved in the day-to-day lives of their kids. They provide for all of their children’s needs but go overboard by doing things that the child can and should be doing for themselves. Think of helicopter parenting as overparenting.

In modern terms, helicopter parenting is when parents help K-12 and college students with tasks and endeavors that they can easily do themselves. For example, parents overstepping their boundaries by calling a professor about their child’s poor midterm grades, completing their class schedule, etc. These are tasks that students can do for themselves without parental assistance.

What Causes Parents to “Overparent”?

They are a lot of reasons why parents hover. One possibility is that they want to shield their children from negative consequences. Parents have anxiety about their children receiving poor grades, not getting a job, or not making an athletic team. Because of this, they do everything in their power to prevent their child from falling.

Sometimes overparenting results from parents overcompensating with their children because they felt unloved or ignored by their parents. They end up overdoing it and become helicopter parents. Lastly, some parents hover because of peer pressure. They see other parents being overly involved and think that this is the norm.

Consequences of Helicopter Parenting

For children raised by helicopter parents, low self-esteem and shyness are very common features. They are also less likely to stand their ground or have appreciable social skills. When they reluctantly make their own decisions, the outcomes are often less than satisfactory because they haven’t had much experience with personal decision-making.  Again, some of these kids may act belligerently when out of their homes.

Also, when parents are always around to clean up their child’s mess, it prevents them from experiencing problems and issues; and they may never learn how to cope with loss, confrontation, disappointment, or failure. They then become incompetent at dealing with the stresses of life. Research has even shown that overparenting is associated with higher levels of childhood depression and anxiety.

Some children of helicopter parents can even develop a sense of entitlement, as they are used to having their own way. For many, they quickly learn that this is not the way that life works. These kids usually have underdeveloped life skills, as doing everything for a child can prevent them from learning how to master these skills.

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