Many of us have heard the term helicopter parenting. It describes parents who ‘hover’ over their children, constantly coaching and correcting. These parents supervise their children in every area of their lives – behavioral, educational, and social.
Helicopter parents deeply love and care for their children and want them to achieve the very best outcomes. The approach for this kind of parent is to mentor, coach, and supervise their children so they can reach their full potential. This parenting style often results in overly protective behaviours, and can result in some negative outcomes for children.
Firstly, the message helicopter parents communicate to their children is that – you may not be able to do this without me helping. In many ways this is counter-productive to the result parents are trying to achieve with their children. By reducing the child’s ability to work out how to do things on their own, children may believe they need another person to help them to achieve things in life.
The second message that often gets relayed through this style of parenting is that – you will not be safe unless I am there to help you. Children need to have a sense of safety to be courageous, to explore the world, and to try things on their own. Part of what makes children feel safe is knowing they possess the inner resources to manage and overcome challenges. If children are kept too safe, their resilience can be negatively impacted, as can their coping ability, and tolerance of stress.
If you find yourself identifying with some of these habits as a parent, don’t panic! There are many ways to curb this supportive behaviour in a manner that will allow you to play a positive role in their life whilst helping your children to soar.
Take a look at the list below and next time you’re at the playground with your child, see if you can’t put a few of these into action.
Listen to your child’s thoughts and ideas
Children learn quickly, and you will be surprised what they come up with if you give them the opportunity to share what they are thinking or to come up with a solution themselves.
Be curious about how they came up with their ideas
It may not be well articulated, but taking the time to ask why, and understand how they got to that conclusion, will give you a wonderful insight into them, and how they view the world and their place in it. It will also help you with how to frame things in ways they will understand.
Allow your child to try something different
Don’t push your desires onto them. Allow them to work things out for themselves and help them to develop a healthy relationship with decision-making.
Don’t do it all for them
Gradually allow them to take on tasks of their own. Encourage your child to consider new ways they may approach a problem, and work things through with them, not for them.
Allow them to make mistakes
We all make mistakes, whether we’re 4 or 40. Allow your child to manage the natural consequences of their own decisions and mistakes rather than saving them from them. Teach your child how to work through them positively, and how to learn from them for next time. This will have a far greater impact than sorting it all for them.
Support your children to set goals
Find out what appeals to them and help them to set out how they intend to achieve their goals. It will help them to develop vital life skills as they grow and start to become more independent.
Allow your child to have an opinion that is different to yours
This one can be trickier than it sounds, it often requires taking note of your own opinion and not letting it override how your child thinks or feels about someone or something. Teach them how to respectfully communicate this with others, rather than what to communicate.