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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


What is Helicopter Parenting?

By Andrew Loh

Yes, helicopter parent, your intentions are good, but that rotor of yours is causing a din.--Felix Carroll, Albany Times Union, January 27, 2005

....“A parent who is overly involved in the life of their child. Then tend to hover over their every movement and decision. Often times they take control and do tasks on their behalf. They also enjoy broadcasting the details and events of their child's life to anyone who will listen. Helicopter Parents do not ease up with age, in fact as the child grows up the tighter their grasp becomes.” - Urban Dictionary

Over focusing and over protecting one's children is often considered to be negative and counter-productive. A parent who indulges in such a parental tactic is said to be hovering constantly over her children throughout the day. Dr. Haim Ginnott used the term “helicopter parenting” in his noted book titled “Parents & Teenagers.” Although used extensively by teens who believed that their parents keep hovering over their heads like a helicopter, the word became fairly famous in the recent years.

A simple definition of helicopter parenting reads as follows (Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit and author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To Guide):

.....“It is a style of parenting by parents who focus excessively on their children and keep hovering around them to extend help even for a mundane thing.” Many alternative words for helicopter parenting are “lawnmower parenting” and “bulldozer parenting.” According to Carolyn Daitch, “parents may assume too much responsibility for their children's experiences and, specifically, their successes or failures.” Helicopter parenting is a sort of “over-parenting” too. Over parenting also means over controlling, excessive protection and trying to achieve perfection in parenting.

Helicopter parents have their reasons to do so. Here are some of the common reasons:

A fear that something will happen to their children: Fear of negative consequences happening to their children may make parents resort to helicopter parenting. Many parents do not want something bad happening to their children be it unhappiness, frustration, anger, disappointments or even classroom failures. To avoid these possibilities, parents may believe that if they keep a constant watch on their children, it becomes easy for them to avoid any untoward events happening to their children.

Anxiety or panic feelings: External triggers like job security, economic downturns, fear of other children doing too good in tests and exams may create a panic or anxiety in the minds of some parents who eventually may decide to see that nothing happens to their children. Worries and negative feelings may push some parents to develop a belief that they have to be protective of their children.

Parental deficiency and overcompensation: It is possible that some parents may have been neglected or rejected on their childhood. Now, they may feel that similar things should not happen to their children. Excessive attention could be an attempt to cover up their previous deficiencies of their childhood.

Parental pressure from others or peer pressure: When a parent sees another parent who is resorting to helicopter parenting, he or she may be compelled to follow a similar path. Helicopter parenting is quite infectious as most parents want to exercise a total control over their children by managing events and things for them.

Possible consequences of helicopter parenting

Helicopter parenting usually starts with a very good intention. However, good intentions of the present day may eventually convert into a feeling of over indulgence to control the life of children. When the feelings becomes crowded with fear, insecurity and decisions of what might occur in the future, then parents will start using an excessive method of parenting that might snatch away children's freedom and independent thinking. In addition, children may overtly depend on their parents for everything that they need in life. In other words, such children will not develop skills to face failures, challenges and risks in their life.

Helicopter parenting might set a dangerous trend for the future of children. It is always better to limit helicopter parenting to extend love and affection to children. Yes, a certain amount of observation is needed to control children's manner and school studies. However, whatever parents do or act should ensure sufficient freedom to children so that they can become skilled, productive and self-sufficient in the future. Experts suggest all parents a simple and effective suggestion: Give sufficient freedom, yet control children in a manner that does not intrude in the path to their mental development. Continue to read Negative Consequences of Helicopter Parenting and Ways to avoid them.


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