Are You a Helicopter Parent?

Young boy climbing a blue wall in his waterproof jacket.

Isn’t it strange how we always say:

“I will never be one of those mums who hovers around their child the whole time and doesn’t allow them to grow up” and yet what do we do? We find ourselves “hovering” at every opportunity!

I remember once being in the park with my little girl – there she was on the climbing frame and I was hovering in case she fell off. I saw her start to wobble and thought “Oh no she’s going to fall!” and ran towards her. She DID fall but she was fine, she got up, brushed herself down and climbed back up!  

But I’m not just talking being careful in the park or when the children are likely to touch hot things in the kitchen. Have a look at the following list and see if you could be a helicopter parent!

You Could be a Helicopter Parent if you…

  1. You only let your child play on playgrounds with a soft rubber flooring instead of concrete.
  2. The first thing you did when your little one came home, crying, from school because her best friend Lucy called her a name, was to call Lucy’s mummy to sort things out
  3. You sit there at 10 o’clock at night rewriting your child’s homework because you noticed lots of mistakes!
  4. You take your 12 year – old son to the doctor at the first sign of a tummy ache.
  5. Your 10- year old still has the training wheels on his bike. 
  6. You get a panic attack at the thought of letting your child go on an outing with their class.
  7. You don’t ask your kids to help out with chores because cleaning fluids can be dangerous!
  8. You and your daughter (11 years old) are having a meeting with the teacher and when she asks her a question you answer for her.
  9. Your child didn’t get accepted to his preferred university, so you call them and try to fight for his place, much to his embarrassment.
  10. Your three children are all fussy eaters, all eat different meals, you spend your time cooking them all separate meals at each mealtime.

Parenting is really very hard isn’t it? Especially with the first child because we have nothing to compare it to. We can only go by what our parents advise us to do, or our sister or grandma! Other than that, we are flying by the seat of our pants! Therefore, we can be forgiven if we “hover”!

So, what harm will it do our kids to have a helicopter parent?

Well, hopefully nothing too drastic, but we must think about things like allowing them to be independent, making friends and dealing with any fall outs, not mollycoddling them too much when they are poorly (it will turn them into hypochondriacs) allowing them to make appointments for the doctors, hairdressers, and dentists when they are old enough, themselves.

At my two hypnotherapy clinics where I specialise in children’s anxiety and behavioural problems, I often see children who are the victims of helicopter mums, some of them quite severe. One child was still eating baby food and couldn’t chew. He was 14 years old. Another one couldn’t ride a bike or swim as mum thought it was too dangerous – he was 12 years old.

Naturally, there is always a need to be cautious with the activities our kids do but by keeping them wrapped up in cotton wool, you are certainly not doing them any favours. They need to experience some difficult situations sometimes – it’s how a child learns and develops into an adult. You wouldn’t want your child to leave home, not knowing how to do anything, not knowing what to do to survive would you?

So, how do you stop “hovering”?

  • Think about all the things you do for your child that he COULD do for himself!
  • Accept that he is not perfect – his homework does not always have to be perfect!
  • Let your child fight their own battles. Don’t interfere unless you really have to!
  • Let your child take risks occasionally.
  • Leave the room if you feel tempted to interfere in something your child may be finding difficult.

As parents we instinctively want to protect our youngsters and keep them safe. Sometimes, without even realising it, this can lead us to become Helicopter Parents. The trick is to recognise what we are doing and then back off! Because, no matter how much we want to, we really can’t protect them all the time, all we can do is equip them to protect themselves the best they can.

And, if you really think that you HAVE been a helicopter parent for several years and that your child needs a bit of help to overcome this, you know where I am!

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