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What Is A Helicopter Parent? Signs and Symptoms To Look For

helicopter helicopter parent Jun 04, 2023
what is a helicopter parent?

What Is A Helicopter Parent? Signs and Symptoms To Look For 


A helicopter parent is a type of parent who is overly involved in their child's life, often to the point of being intrusive and controlling. They hover over their child, constantly monitoring their every move and decision, and are highly anxious about their child's safety and well-being. Helicopter parents may micromanage their child's activities, school work, and relationships and tend to shield their child from any kind of hardship or failure. This parenting style can have both positive and negative effects on children, as it can provide a sense of security and support but can also limit their independence and ability to make decisions on their own.

In this blog, we will teach you what makes Helicopter Parents HOVER with our acronym for parenting behaviors. Don't miss out on the opportunity to take our free online quiz to find out how hard you helicopter, and we'll tell you about the ways you can start to lower or reduce helicopter parent behaviors. 

  • Helmsmanship
  • Overprotection.
  • Valuations.
  • Eagle-eye Monitoring.'
  • Rescuing.

The Rising Trend of Helicopter Parenting: A Contemporary Issue

More than ever, the phenomenon of helicopter parenting is front and center in conversations around child development and parenting styles. The shift towards highly involved parenting is partly driven by a fast-paced, competitive world where parents feel the pressure to ensure their children don't just succeed but excel. From the playground to the classroom and even into young adulthood, some parents are closely guiding their children's experiences. Media coverage and academic research on the topic have increased exponentially, highlighting both the pros and cons of this parenting approach. It's crucial to understand this trend, as it reflects our societal norms and shapes the future generation's ability to navigate the world independently. The implications of helicopter parenting reach far beyond the home, influencing educational settings, workplaces, and the overall mental well-being of young adults.

The History Of Helicopter Parenting.

The term 'helicopter parenting' was first used in the 1969 book "Parents & Teenagers" by Dr. Haim Ginott. It was a phrase coined by teens who described their parents as hovering over them like helicopters. But the concept really gained traction in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as the millennial generation came of age.

At this time, societal factors such as increased access to information and heightened safety concerns contributed to a shift in parenting styles. Parents started to play an increasingly active role in their children's lives, intending to protect them from any potential harm, failure, or disappointment. This change in parenting style also coincided with advancements in technology, enabling parents to stay connected with their kids 24/7. Some also tie the rise of helicopter parenting to increased competition for college admissions and prestigious job opportunities. Parents felt pressure to ensure their child stood out from the crowd, leading to greater involvement in their academics and extracurricular activities.

In recent years, the trend has been the subject of much debate and research. While helicopter parenting is often well-intentioned, studies have indicated potential downsides, including increased anxiety, poor coping skills, low self-efficacy, and narcissistic tendencies among young adults. Thus, the history of helicopter parenting is a tale of changing societal norms, technological advancements, and the evolving pressures of raising children in an increasingly competitive world.

The Key Traits of a Helicopter Parent

A. Always on the Radar: Helicopter Parents' Involvement

Helicopter parents aren't just involved in their children's lives; they're practically a permanent fixture! From managing their children's daily schedules to stepping in and resolving their problems, helicopter parents are always there, ensuring everything goes smoothly. They often take an active role in the child's education, extracurricular activities, and even their social life. It's their well-meaning way of steering their children towards success, but their overprotective approach can also prevent children from learning to manage on their own.

B. Bubble Wrap and Cotton Wool: The Overprotection Factor

A typical trait of helicopter parent is their intense desire to shield their children from any possible harm, discomfort, or failure. This can manifest in many ways, such as not allowing a child to partake in certain activities due to perceived risks or even doing a child's homework to prevent a poor grade. While their intentions are often pure, this overprotection can limit children's opportunities to learn from their mistakes and develop resilience.

C. Shooting for the Stars: High Expectations and Their Impact

Helicopter parents are often characterized by their incredibly high expectations for their children's performance. They're driven by a desire to see their child succeed, and often, only the best is good enough. Whether it's academic success, sports performance, or artistic abilities, these parents push their children to excel, sometimes resulting in high pressure and stress for the young ones.

D. The Control Tower: Parents' Control and Children's Autonomy

One crucial aspect of helicopter parenting is the relationship between parental control and a child's autonomy. In their bid to ensure everything goes perfectly for their child, helicopter parents often exert a high degree of control, making decisions on behalf of their children and closely managing their activities. As a result, children may struggle to develop a sense of autonomy and independence, which are essential for building self-confidence and effective problem-solving skills.

Take Our Free Helicopter Parenting Test


The Negative Repercussions of Helicopter Parenting

However, being under the constant propellers of helicopter parenting can sometimes lead to turbulent outcomes.

The most controversial is the heightened risk of narcissism in children. This style of parenting, with its constant praise and excessive attention, can create a distorted self-image, leading children to become self-absorbed and overly dependent on validation from others, which can look like signs or symptoms of narcissism.

Additionally, it's not just about personality traits, but the development of essential life skills as well. Parents who are overly involved often unwittingly cripple their children's ability to cope with life's challenges. By constantly solving problems for their offspring, they prevent them from learning to navigate difficult situations themselves, resulting in poor coping skills as these children grow into young adults.

Then, there's the giant shadow of anxiety looming over children of helicopter parents. The high expectations, along with an excessive degree of protection and control, may foster an environment of intense pressure and anxiety. These youngsters may find themselves dealing with a range of anxiety disorders, from social and separation anxiety to attachment anxiety.

In extreme cases, this could even lead to maladaptive behaviours like drug and alcohol use as coping mechanisms. There are also severe implications for the children's self-efficacy, with some studies pointing to a direct link between this and ineffective coping behaviours.

To put it simply, while the intentions behind helicopter parenting may be rooted in love and care, the effects can sometimes whirl out of control, leading to some significant negative impacts on children's psychological well-being.


Cruising through the 'H.O.V.E.R.' Lane: Signs of a Helicopter Parent

Parenting styles are as diverse as parents themselves, but there's a certain class of parents that has caught everyone's attention in recent years – the 'helicopter parents.' How does one identify them? Just follow the 'H.O.V.E.R.' lane.

'H' stands for 'Helmsmanship,' as these parents are always at the steering wheel of their child's life. Be it school assignments, hobbies, or weekend plans, they are always in control, micromanaging every aspect.

'O' denotes 'Overprotection.' Helicopter parents have a radar-like sense of danger and would do anything to shield their kids, even when it stunts their growth or hinders their exposure to real-world experiences.

'V' symbolizes 'Valuations.' From the assessment of which college to attend, to estimating the worth of pursuing specific careers, helicopter parents tend to make these valuations on behalf of their kids, often infringing on their child's autonomy to make these judgements.

'E' represents 'Eagle-eye Monitoring.' They keep a close eye on their child's social life, handpicking friends, and scrutinizing social interactions, often to an unnecessary degree, maintaining a close focus on all things that might be of danger.

'R' stands for 'Rescuing.' Mistakes are part and parcel of growing up, but not for children of helicopter parents. These parents often swoop in to shield their children from failure, depriving them of the learning opportunities that mistakes bring.

Remember, while it's normal and necessary for parents to provide guidance to their children, excessive 'hovering' can stifle a child's development. So, don't be too quick to enter the 'H.O.V.E.R.' lane. Striking a balance between being a supportive parent and promoting your child's independence is the key to their confidence and growth.

What advice can be given to parents who may be exhibiting helicopter parenting tendencies?

Chronic anxiety often drives parents' behaviours and expectations, leading to overcontrol and limiting the psychological autonomy their children need to grow into well-adjusted adults. This is a concept of Dr. Murray Bowen, the founding father of Family Systems Theory. His model gives us a framework to reducing chronic anxiety, which, if followed, helps parents can better balance the five "dials" of parenting: warmth, acceptance, expectations, control of autonomy, and control of behaviour.

Addressing helicopter parenting requires grounding and fostering connections in less anxious ways. This isn't about pulling back completely but rather reframing our approach to allow our children to navigate their own lives more independently.

The Grounded Parenting course from My People Patterns takes a family systems approach to understanding Chronic Anxiety, lowering it, and helping helicopter parents do less hovering so they have more time to enjoy being a parent.


Is helicopter parenting a good or bad thing?

Helicopter parenting, also known as overparenting, is a style of parenting in which parents are overly involved in their child's life, often to the point of being intrusive. There is no simple answer to whether helicopter parenting is good or bad, as it depends on the individual circumstances.

On the one hand, helicopter parenting can have some benefits. It can help children feel supported and protected, and can give them a sense of security. Additionally, it can ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate or dangerous situations, and can help them succeed academically by providing guidance and resources.

However, there are also many negative aspects to helicopter parenting. It can hinder a child's development of independence and problem-solving skills, as they may rely on their parents to solve all their problems for them. It can also cause children to feel anxious and stressed, as their parents' constant involvement can create pressure and high expectations.

Furthermore, helicopter parenting can damage the parent-child relationship, as it can undermine trust and lead to conflicts and resentment. It can also be exhausting for parents, as they may feel a constant need to be involved and attentive to their child's every need.

Overall, it is important for parents to find a balance between being involved and providing support, while also allowing their child to develop independence and learn from their mistakes. While some level of involvement is necessary, it is important not to cross the line into overparenting, as this can have negative consequences for both the child and parent.

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