Overly protective, “helicopter” parents often have the best intentions, but their behavior can lead to unhealthy dependencies in both parents and children.
Your job as a mom is to overcome your controlling tendencies to ensure that your kids can become independent and self-sufficient adults.
What is a helicopter mom?
Dr Joanne J Wendt, a San Diego-based licensed clinical psychologist, says that during her 27 years of practice, she has seen many families suffering from “helicopter parent syndrome,” a common name for an overly protective and controlling parent or parents. This behavior can be very detrimental to a child’s self-esteem.
Children who never experience life’s challenges don’t have the opportunity to learn self-reliance and responsibility.
Here are a few things that helicopter parents can address — and correct their own habits that adversely affect a child’s independence and emotional well-being.
1) Face your own fears first
Parents need to address their own fears and worries.
Dr Wendt says, “The problem, here, lies mostly with the parent’s own insecurity being acted out upon the child. The parent may have abandonment issues, lack of self-esteem, loneliness and fears that may foster an unhealthy attachment to the child in order to satisfy unmet emotional needs. The parent, then, may ‘hover’ over the child to prevent the child from suffering the pain, harm and disappointment that the parent has experienced in his/her life.”
2) Encourage responsibility
Think of ways to help a child become more responsible. By encouraging a child to develop personal responsibility, a parent can still provide guidance and help but with the ultimate goal of fostering independence and self-sufficiency.
3) Frustration is okay
Recognize that children need to get frustrated sometimes. Furthermore, children need to feel frustrated on a regular basis in order to learn delayed gratification and problem solving skills.
Dr Wendt says, “The over-protectiveness of the parents gives their children the idea that the parents don’t trust them to adequately manage their lives. This may result in a condition called ‘learned helplessness,’ whereby the children feel that they need the parent to take care of them in the world.”
4) Failure is a necessary experience
Parents need to let their children experience failure and pain. No parent will be able to protect his or her child from the world’s hardships, no matter how hard he or she tries. While parents should always try to care for children and protect them from obvious harm, they should also be willing to let their children experience life, with an appropriate amount of positive and negative experiences.
Although parents are usually well-intentioned and are trying to protect their children, helicopter parenting can be harmful for a child’s emotional and social development. Children need an environment in which they are frustrated, solve their own problems, and build up confidence.