Stretching the Umbilical Cord

The Dreaded Helicopter Parent-Are You One?

In a recent report from Developmental Psychology, author Dr. Nicole Perry suggests that those children whose parents are over-controlling when they are young are less able to control their emotions and impulses as they get older.

Evidence reveals that controlling parenting is linked to a number of problems as a child grows up:

It suggests that to foster emotional and behavioral skills parents should allow children to experience a range of emotions and give them space to practice and try managing these emotions independently.  

The parent role is to coach not to play the game for the child.

Helicopter Parenting Is Counterproductive

More controlling behavior by mothers was linked both to their children having less control over their own emotions and less control over their impulses by the age of five.  What’s more, five-year-olds with poorer control over emotions were linked to worse social skills at the age of 10,

upwardIn my work with parents, I have met many helicopter parents, and it subjectively feels that the number and the intensity of such parents are increasing.

The stories of parents behaving inappropriately and causing chaos to all around them, but especially their children, have become legend.

Teachers and coaches have complained for years about inappropriate behavior.  Now, universities, businessmen, and the military are offering similar horror stories.

In our Confident Parenting library of screenings and assessments, we offer one that outlines the characteristics of the helicopter parent, and that allows the parent to self-describe.  

Moreover, we help parents to understand the other parenting types,  of which some, such as the narcissistic type match that of the helicopter parent in some areas.

While the study shows a connection between what they call over-controlling parenting and later issues,  we need to be careful to take this report at face value, and we need to make sure that we describe parents accurately.

No parent should be made to feel guilty or judged.

I have met only a handful of parents over a forty year span that really did not love and want the best for their child. Helicopter parents care about their children, and what their children are doing and what their children are learning.

However, they are going about it the wrong way.

Why do they do it?

I believe that it is a fascinating mix: a lack of trust, anxiety, a need to control, an inability to appreciate their child for who he/she is, a need for social recognition, a deep personal insecurity, and an absolute blindness to even constructive criticism.  Such parents are exhausting and impossible to please, and adults spend a lot of time trying to protect their child from their worst excesses.

For those regular readers of our blogs, they know that at Confident Parenting we urge parents to be involved with their children, to advocate for them, and where necessary, to go to battle for them.

However, clearly helicopter parenting is at the extreme of the continuum and goes way beyond supporting the child.

How We Can Help

At Confident Parenting, we exist to help parents to coach their children in a positive manner.

We seek to support parents to create appropriate partnerships with the child and other adults.   We can help that loving parent understand that they are not 100% responsible for everything their child does and says.

We help them understand that they do own their emotions and behavior and that they can control them.

We stress that, rather than fix a child’s challenges; they must help them to fix their problems for themselves.

We suggest from the start that parents allow children to make small decisions and build from there- a red or blue dress; this or that book to read; the order in completing homework, soccer or piano, and so on.  We advise parents to allow their child to take risks- give them opportunities to earn trust one step at a time. Finally, we strongly urge that parents let him/her make mistakes and then work with their child on how to fix them, rather than to fix things for the child.

This is not a society that is kind to those that make mistakes.  On the other hand, we have to coach our children how to deal with mistakes when they arise.  

Contact us, and we will help you to create a personal plan to support you.