Are you a helicopter parent?

Helicopter parenting connotes images of a parent hovering over their child, watching whatever they do and following wherever they go.

There are parents befriend or intimidate their child’s teacher to ask for higher grades or class incentives. Some parents actually do their child’s homework so they get better grades.

There are parents who keep their children on a short leash, always needing to know what their kids are doing or who they’re with.

Helicopter parents spoon-feed their children to make life easier and help them succeed, or so they think. These parents often don’t make their kids do chores.

Neither do they allow their kids to make decisions for themselves, nor solve problems on their own.

Helicopter parenting takes many forms. The fear of lagging behind others and the need to succeed in everything can drive parents to overprotect and over-control their children.

Sounds familiar? If any of the above examples remind you of yourself, you may be guilty of helicopter parenting.

Most helicopter parents have well-meaning intentions and success plans for for their children, but may just end up doing more damage to their children in the long run and affect their social skills and behaviour.

The long-term effects on the child can be seriously damaging as they can grow up with low self-esteem, make poor decisions, develop unrealistic goals for themselves, and have trouble socializing and making friends.

Parents who go out of their way to make everything in life smooth for their children aren’t really preparing them for success but making them vulnerable to failure.

For example, a child keeps forgetting to bring their homework to school. The parent, not wanting their child to suffer the consequences, takes the homework to their child in school.

While it may seem like what any caring parent would do, this habit does not teach the child to be responsible. The child ends up thinking that their parents will always deal with their failings for them.

In other words, helicopter parents end up being safety-net parents, and heir children never learn to take responsibility for their own lives.

So, what can you do to up-skill your parenting style?

Manage expectations

Know when to assist the child with their tasks and when to let them work it out on their own. Children must learn to develop a sense of responsibility and own up to their actions.

Instead of doing their homework for them, guide them to solve problems on their own. Provide them with the necessary tools and point them in the right direction.

In this highly competitive culture, it is quite common to find parents who treat their children as trophies. These parents set unrealistic expectations for their children, control their schedules and pressure them to excel.

Competitive parents often brag about their child’s achievements on social media. These parents view their child’s achievements as a measurement of their own worth as parents.

Rather than conditioning the child to work hard in order to prove themselves, it is best to guide them to improve themselves and build on their natural strengths.

Develop healthy emotional bonds

Parents often withhold praise from their children and mete out punishment thinking that “tough love” is the best way to raise successful children. However it’s best to parent by positive reinforcement.

Focus on what they do right. Praise them for their good choices. If you keep on highlighting their mistakes, it’s possible that the child will develop low self-esteem which could lead to more serious mental and emotional issues.

Rather than praise the child for being smart, praise them for their hard work. In doing so, you inspire them with the value of hard work and effort.

Practice what you preach

Children imitate the way parents respond to stress, problems and the way parents treat people who have a lower economic status. Whatever behaviour a child observes at home, they imitate. To train their child to be a responsible citizen, parents are the best role models.

This article first appeared in thenewsavvy.com

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