While there is no one best way to raise a child, one thing is for sure—parents always want the best for their children. You want them to succeed, protect them from any harm, and keep them safe and happy at all times. It’s perfectly understandable to want to become an involved parent, but be careful! You might be becoming practicing helicopter parenting without knowing it.
Helicopter parenting refers to a parenting style where parents are overly focused on their children, to the point that they are taking too much responsibility for their kids’ experiences, particularly their failures and successes. This style is also known as over-parenting, where the parent becomes overcontrolling and overprotective.
Signs of a helicopter parent
Helicopter parenting can apply to parents of children at any age. A helicopter parent of a toddler always shadows the child as a result of over-worrying. They almost always direct the child’s behaviour, not giving them a chance to have alone time.
For elementary school children, helicopter parents often do their children’s homework and projects for them, offer unsolicited advice to teachers and coaches, and select their friends and activities for them.
Build resilience in children while they are still young, and helicopter parenting prevents them from being resilient. This may affect their self-esteem growing up and may also prevent their coping skills and life skills from developing. Helicopter parenting also results in negative attitudes and feelings, such as a sense of entitlement and increased anxiety.
As a parent, you need to understand that for your kids to develop independence, self-confidence, and resilience, you need to allow them to make mistakes and face challenges. Instill these qualities into them while they are young and in the learning stage.
How to avoid helicopter parenting
Avoid hovering over your kids
Ask yourself, do you want them to grow up always relying on you to fix things, or do you want them to develop life skills and grow up independent?
Allow your children to accomplish tasks they can do by themselves, such as tying their shoelaces, cleaning their room, and getting dressed. Prevent yourself from holding them back from being curious and from risks kids their age would take. Allow and encourage them to learn and experience things that are naturally part of growing up, such as feeling pain and struggling. Avoid intervening to talk to their teachers or answer questions for them.
Let your children make age-appropriate decisions
Allow them to decide things for themselves. While growing up, kids will discover more about themselves, what they want and do not want, when they are allowed to make decisions. Let them pick the activities or hobbies they want to do or classes they want to take. This will also eliminate any feelings of resentment that children usually develop toward parents who make them do something against their will.
Teach them life skills
When they are at the right age to handle simple responsibilities at home, teach them life skills such as cleaning, laundry, and cooking. It’s also important to teach them social skills, including face-to-face interaction and talking with authorities, such as teachers. Let your children learn how to communicate and get along well with others. When they disagree with a friend, avoid getting in the middle or fixing it for them. Guide them on how they can resolve conflicts by themselves.
Let your kids become mistake makers
Failing is part of life, and your children must experience that to develop coping skills. We know it is difficult for you to witness them disappointed and struggling, but this is how they will learn to get back up and persevere to succeed. This will also teach them to become analytical and explore creative solutions to their problems.
Let them do the thinking
Facilitate your kid’s thought process by asking questions instead of spoon feeding them with answers. Some questions to ask can include asking them what they want, how they can get what they want, what they can do about a conflict to solve it or prevent it from happening again, and how they ended up in a particular predicament. Guide them through the thought process.
Building resilience in children
Remember that you can be supportive without smothering. Teaching children resilience will help set them up for future success.
At Strength Heroes, we have fun activities for kids that give them freedom and independence to help them grow up with a healthy mindset. Check out our workshops and school holiday activities in Perth for children of ages 6 to 12. We also offer resources for parents and teachers to support children more effectively and teach them resilience.