All of us want to be good parents and for our children to be safe, happy and healthy. It's also normal to want our kids to avoid some of the struggles that we ourselves endured. But what happens if we cross the line from being an involved and supportive parent to worrying excessively, and being overly controlling and protective which is called helicopter parenting.
What is Helicopter Parenting
It's used to describe parents who are extreme in their focus, always hovering around their children and worrying about their safety, as well as their physical and mental wellbeing. Its also known as neurotic parenting or over-parenting.
Helicopter parents tend to be hands-on and overprotective, often trying to shield their children from the trials of life, rather than encouraging independence. Helicopter parenting traits often include:
The list is endless. Ultimately, none of us want our children to hurt themselves, become ill, feel left out or struggle at school. But what happens when we step in too soon and try to solve their problems for them, in an attempt to make them happy, or avoid feelings of pain, frustration, boredom or disappointment?
Why have we become neurotic parents?
Parents usually love their children intensely and have their best interests at heart. No one sets out to over-parent, but it's becoming increasingly common. There are likely to be a number of reasons for this:
And there are more reasons still: many people are now choosing to have children later in life, perhaps even giving up an established career to have them. If you're used to success in other areas of life, this same determination may then be applied to the role of being a parent.
How to relax your parenting style
Pay attention to your parenting behaviours
pay attention to how you interact with your child throughout the day. Make a note of anything you're doing for them that they could be doing for themselves. Making a list will help you to get rid of that.
Encourage your child to do more for themselves and to step outside their comfort zone. Rather than giving the message, 'Others will do the work for me,' this teaches, 'I can do this by myself'.
Practise letting go
Let your children play together, without adult supervision or control. They will learn firsthand how to negotiate, cooperate and empathise – and will soon discover what happens if they don't.
You can't always protect your children from the disappointments and challenges of life. As much as you might be able to attempt this when they're young, it's an impossible task as they grow older. What's more, being overly protective when they're young robs them of the opportunities to learn how to cope by themselves when you're not there.
What you can do is be there for them when they need you, and show them love, support, strength and encouragement. They will learn they can make it on their own and, when they no longer need you around, you'll also know they can make it on their own, too.
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