By Katelyn Campbell
Helicopter parents are known for hovering around and micromanaging their children in unusual ways. Most parents would agree that there is nothing wrong with being involved, caring and concerned with your child’s well-being. However, some parent’s cross the line in ways that can interfere with healthy and normal developmental stages all children should experience. Here are five tell-tale signs you are a helicopter parent.
This is one behavior almost every helicopter parent exudes. A helicopter parent is so concerned with their child’s well-being that they occasionally lack confidence in their child’s ability to play safely or handle minor disputes on their own. When a parent interferes in their child’s play too quickly, they are not allowing their child to learn how to handle minor problems on their own, in a safe environment. It is normal for parental involvement to occur at times, but before you come running to your child’s rescue, it is a good idea to hold back a moment to make sure they really need your help.
A typical parent understands that a picky-eater will rarely clean their plate and is willing to compromise so long as their child eats a sufficient amount of protein and vegetables. A helicopter parent will build entire family dining experiences around their picky eater and still leave the dinner table concerned when they see that their child has not eaten what they would consider a healthy amount of food. Helicopter parents may also cut out dietary items like gluten or dairy for fear that they may expose their child to an allergy that they might not even have.
It is true that how children perform in school may impact the type of future they are able to build for themselves. A helicopter parent understands this and can often be found helping a child with homework. It is normal and even good for parents to take an interest in their child’s education, but helicopter parents are often so concerned with wrong answers that they will push their child until they get it right or even feed their child the answer. Helicopter parents often believe they are doing their child a favor when they push them towards a correct answer, but, unfortunately, this method often will backfire and leave a child feeling inadequate or unmotivated.
Most parents understand that an occasional low score on assignments in elementary school is normal. A helicopter parent is likely to argue with teachers over any grade that is less than an “A” or pick fights with coaches who bench their child during a game or practice. It is normal for children to experience developmental setbacks at different times and this should be understood and even expected. When children come home with a lower grade, it is not an indication of low intelligence or a teacher with unrealistic expectations
Parents may occasionally spy on their child as a last resort when they notice they have become uncommunicative or depressed. But a helicopter parent’s first line of defense is to spy on their child, regardless of their current behavior. They believe in their right to know every detail in their child’s life more than they believe in their child’s right to privacy. This behavior often backfires when it is discovered as it causes the child to lose trust in their parent and shut down.
Most helicopter parents are unaware of their behavior until someone points it out or they begin to notice their child withdrawing. It is always best to communicate directly with their child and perform more as a cheerleader and counselor than a warden. Typically, when young children experience problems that are too big for them to handle, they will come to an adult they trust for help, so hovering and interfering is truly unnecessary behavior that only creates more stress for you and your child.