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Helicopter Parenting: The Impact on Children's Physical Well-being

May 27, 2023

Helicopter parenting, a term coined for the parenting style characterized by an excessive level of parental control and over-involvement, is believed by some o have a significant impact on the physical well-being of children (Reed et al., 2016; Janssen, 2015). Yet, the precise nature of the impact and who is most susceptible remains a highly contested topic, often inviting polarizing perspectives from the academic community.

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The Physical Growth of Millennial Children

In stark contrast to past generations, the current generation of children have a more heightened sense of protection over them and nd an unprecedented level of parental supervision. This present generation of children, unlike their predecessors, experience limited opportunities to engage in unstructured, unsupervised physical activities. In many cases, their physical play is restricted to supervised activity classes such as swimming or basketball, and their walking to and from school is often substituted with parental drives (Enjeti, 2016).

Although protective, this sometimes appears to be a form of over-supervision and it could stifle children's physical development and interfere with their acquisition of essential life skills. Every day activities such as crossing the road, driving or even simple household chores like cooking, once considered rites of passage, are now perceived as high-risk activities by the Generation 'X' parents (Enjeti, 2016; Janssen 2015, pg. 57; Locke et al., 2012, pg. 259).

The Effect on Physical Health and Psychological Well-being

Studies suggest that this lack of autonomous physical activity may lead to a variety of negative effects on children's physical health, which in turn can impact their psychological well-being. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of obesity and chronic diseases (Gillison et al., 2017) and may negatively affect children's self-perception, motivation, and the way they interact with their environment.

A compelling argument by Reed et al., (2016) reveals a link between physical health and self-efficacy, a critical aspect of psychological well-being. They suggest that children with better physical health often demonstrate higher motivation, persistence, and healthy eating habits, especially among females. Conversely, low physical activity due to over-parenting may result in decreased self-efficacy, leading to a lack of motivation, persistence, and unhealthy behaviors in young adults.

The Academic vs. Physical Activity Paradox

The impact of helicopter parenting on children's academic success is another complex facet of this conversation. It is often observed that in their quest to see their children excel acadically, parents may restrict playtime, thus reducing opportunities for physical activity (Givertz et al., 2012). On the flip side, it's important to note that not all aspects of helicopter parenting negatively impact physical activities. Some parents may encourage and support their children's involvement in sports while also prioritizing academic achievements.

The Quest for Clarity

Despite the wealth of research, a clear understanding of the potential adverse effects of helicopter parenting on children's physical health remains elusive (Locke et al., 2012, pg. 261-262). While certain studies suggest that helicopter parenting during the pre-adolescent years negatively impacts a child's physical health (Janssen, 2015), others argue a positive correlation exists in emerging adults (Reed et al., 2016, pg. 3141).

It's clear that more in-depth studies are required to fully unpack this complex relationship. However, parents should strive to find a balanced approach that fosters both their children's physical development and independence, ultimately preparing them to navigate the world confidently.



Enjeti, A. (2016) Generation X’s Parenting Problem. huffington post. Available from: <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-mid/generation-x-parentingproblem_b_7258314.html> [Accessed 19 August 2017].

Janssen, I 2015, 'Hyper-parenting is negatively associated with physical activity among 7–12year olds', Preventive Medicine, 73, pp. 55-59, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 July 2017.

Locke,.et al (2016) Overparenting And Homework: The Student’S Task, But Everyone’S Responsibility.. Australia: Queensland University of Technology, 2016. Web. 3 July 2017.

Reed, K, Duncan, J, Lucier-Greer, M, Fixelle, C, & Ferraro, A 2016, 'Helicopter parenting and emerging adult self-efficacy: Implications for mental and physical health', Journal Of Child And Family Studies, 25, 10, pp. 3136- 3149, PsycINFO, EBSCOhost, viewed 27 July 2017.



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