Becoming a parent is a huge milestone in everyone’s life. It changes our life irreversibly.
After becoming parents we need to dedicate a lot of time and resources to kids.
But does that mean we should lose our sleep over raising kids and hover around them all the time as if our world revolves only around them?
Such a way of parenting is called helicopter parenting.
The term helicopter parent was coined by Foster Cline and Jim Fay in 1990.
Helicopter parents hover around their children like a helicopter, monitoring every move of theirs and giving constant directions on what they can do and what they cannot.
Keep reading if you think you exhibit signs of being a helicopter parent and want to know how to stop being a helicopter parent.
WHAT CAUSES HELICOPTER PARENTING?
Though there can be various reasons why parents decide to hover over their kids, one major factor is fear.
- Fear of losing them to mishaps
- Fear of them not succeeding in life
- Fear of them developing bad habits/behaviors if we don’t interfere
- Fear of you losing control over their life (it’s a big issue for parents who are overcontrolling)
- Fear that they will not be able to deal with the competitive world out there and make a good living without your help
And so on.
Other factors include,
- Peer pressure: You see other parents doing so much for their children and you feel pressured
- Overcompensation: Some parents have had to struggle a lot in their childhood and so they want to rescue their kids from the suffering of such a sort
Compared to the olden days, more parents are attaching their own self-worth and identity to their children.
This can lead to overparenting because they can’t stand seeing their children facing failures.
You may be able to protect your children in short term, but in the long run, they will not be able to live confidently on their own. That’s one side effect of helicopter parenting and there’s more.
So, what are the solutions to helicopter parenting?
Considering there are real dangers out there in the world, how can one stop being a controlling parent?
HOW TO STOP HELICOPTER PARENTING
1. LEARN TO TAME YOUR ANXIETY
People with anxiety know how hard it is to function properly when your brain is constantly bringing up the worst-case scenarios all the time.
Your mind might say,
“I have heard such incidents happened to ________. What if it happens to my child if I let him play outside?”
“I don’t like the way her friends talk. What if she is a bad influence on my daughter?”
And it can go on and on.
For sure, these are legitimate doubts and every parent can have these.
But if we are to react to every doubt and every thought by being controlling, it’s gonna make everyone’s life miserable.
As a person with anxiety, I have been learning to trust and let go.
It is easier said than done.
But to let go of anxiety, I started chanting to myself following mantras and started forming new thoughts and beliefs that help me to practice letting go.
- No matter how hard we try, we cannot control every scenario that happens in life. Your child may engage in bad things, they will experience failures, may not be studious and may not end up studying in that prestigious college or may even fail, or may end up having different religious principles than you.
- Whatever that is, it might be what makes them live an authentic life and be happy. Those failures might have important lessons they need to succeed later in life. Who am I to direct all that?
- The worst-case scenarios are just a possibility. What if they don’t happen? Am I not making my kids miss out on so many good things in life and blocking them from creating awesome memories?
- God/Universe knows what is best for us. Whatever happens with our kids, it would be best for them and for us too
- I only have the present moment with me. And I am going to make the best of it by being calm and happy
- I am just their guide and my role is to show them the right path and teach right from wrong
In short, it all comes down to accepting the fact that you are not in control of all that happens in your life or your kids’ life.
And making a list of what you can and can’t control will help you.
The profession your child is going to choose is his wish (and should be). If you want him to join the medical school, but if his heart is set on becoming a world traveler (this is a profession today, by the way), you cannot stop him.
There may be risks in letting him do that, but that’s his journey to make. And when you realize it’s not under your control, you can stop hovering above him to tell him to study!
2. BE INVOLVED WHERE NECESSARY
But you need to be involved when it’s necessary. If you become a permissive parent, that can be harmful to your child as well.
Permissive parents are afraid to correct children and they try to become friends with kids.
Instead of going to the extremes, keep a middle ground. We should know when to get involved in kids’ life and when not.
We should be involved when it is concerned with their well-being and safety.
Be involved, but do not be intrusive.
Before involving ask yourself whether this is an issue that requires your help or whether your child can manage it on their own. Sometimes, they just need to vent and you can listen to it.
If they are really anxious, you can step in.
Kids experiencing the usual worries in studies or projects are normal. It’s also normal to have issues with their friends. Let them handle these issues on their own.
This is why authoritative parenting (or positive parenting) is the best one to follow.
It advocates providing love, presence, guidance, limit setting, and boundaries. By setting boundaries, we should learn when to step in and when to step out. As they grow up, give them more power in decision-making.
I think kids can give us a clue about when we are involving too much. When we over-involve they will show the need for autonomy and it’s important to respect that.
When we show the right amount of involvement, there is less need to worry, as children know that we have their back and they would try to stay away from the wrong things so as not to lose the love and respect they are receiving.
3. LET THEM TAKE DECISIONS FROM A YOUNG AGE
For kids to grow up being independent and for us to stop being a helicopter parent, allow them to take decisions from a young age. Like what to wear, what to play, etc.
When you are ready to respond to all their issues, they don’t learn how to deal with their problems on their own.
If you let a child take the decision of not wearing a jacket when it’s cold, he will learn from the consequence why it was a bad decision.
Similarly, he will learn when he made good judgments as well, from the consequence.
4. EQUIP THEM WITH ESSENTIAL LIFE SKILLS
Instead of rescuing them from every unpleasant situation, teach them good life skills, so that they know how to deal with unpleasant situations on their own.
You can tell them how there can be uncertainty in life and that learning the right life skills can help them deal with them.
Kids being kids, will moan and roll their eyes, when you ask them to make their bed or prepare breakfast on their own. But as said earlier, we should know when to step back.
In short, stop doing for your kids what they can do themselves.
Assign them with age-appropriate chores and you will be surprised that kids are capable of doing more than we think.
5. TEACH KIDS RIGHT FROM WRONG
Instead of being anxious imagining all the worst-case scenarios, we can try to teach children what’s right and wrong, so that they can learn to choose the right path.
We can start the training early on and gain their trust by letting them know that you will be there for them if they need help.
We don’t want our kids to involve in drugs and then learn from it. In such cases, prevention is better.
So teach them from a young age, what would happen if they befriend the wrong gang in the street or how would it affect their life if they play video games too much.
You should also be able to build a relationship based on love and trust so that they can come to you and talk openly about anything in their life.
But that can happen only if you loosen some restrictions and let them make their own choices and mistakes as well.
6. LET YOUR CHILD BE WHO THEY ARE
Helicopter parents can always be seen giving instructions on what to do. They involve in most decisions of their child’s life.
Helicopter parents seem to decide everything from what their child wears to which course they should learn.
The problem is, you can lose your child for who he is when you take all the decisions for him.
I have seen way too many people who still struggle in their adulthood with regret and frustration about being trapped somewhere where they don’t want to be.
This happened because their parents took decisions for them and now they have lost the prime years of their life where they could take the important career decisions according to their choice.
So what parents need to understand is that you are not your kids.
You are not your child’s success or failure.
You have your own life to live. And they have their own too. Don’t try to fulfill your dreams through them.
Get to know what your child’s capabilities are and stop forcing him/her to become who they are not meant to be.
Encourage their natural talents and do what you can to cater to their interests.
7. STOP TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR CHILD’S EMOTIONS
I have seen parents who let their two-year-olds play with mobile phones when they cry for it.
Parents think it’s their responsibility to make kids happy doing whatever it takes to be.
This can lead to entitlement in children.
This can also lead you to do things out of your way to keep them content. This results in doing too much for kids who are already capable of doing things on their own.
Also, parents should stop taking responsibility for their children’s actions.
This happens when you try to ‘fix’ their mistakes. If children forget to do their assignments, do not do it for them. Let them experience the consequence and take the blame themselves.
Also, we need to stop nagging them for doing their chores and instead create effective systems to make sure they contribute to family chores.
This helps to build accountability in children and also requires less interference from the parents’ side as they grow up.
8. STOP DOING WHAT THAT THEY CAN DO BY THEMSELVES
The sign of being a helicopter parent is that you are constantly giving them directions.
Sometimes, we don’t realize that our kids can do so much more than we think. Only when we assign them age-appropriate chores, we realize how much they can do.
So as they get older, give them more responsibilities. Even if they do messy work, let it be. The aim is not perfection.
The aim is to make them responsible and independent. It also helps parents to stop hovering like a helicopter.
As many helicopter parents tend to be control freaks and perfectionists, it is hard for a helicopter parent to let go of control and see children doing not-so-perfect work. The key is in practice and acceptance.
In order to let go of control, we also need to stop nagging. Because if we are sticking to nagging to get them to do something, in effect we are still hovering over them. And the tiredness of nagging usually makes parents do those chores themselves.
9. TEACH PROBLEM-SOLVING
Instead of jumping in to solve their problems, teach children how to do it.
If they have arguments with friends or face bullying in school, listen to their problems, and help them think for themselves.
If the problems they face are new, brainstorm solutions with them and advise on how to approach the problem. But refrain from calling his friend’s mom’s number to resolve the fight.
10. FOCUS ON YOU
What helicopter parents must understand is that you have an identity of your own. Stop attaching your worth based on your kids’ accomplishments.
You have a role to play in your kids’ life but that doesn’t mean the majority of time in your day should be spent following your kids, inspecting what they are doing, and driving them to different classes.
Take time off for yourself and work on your own goals and build a life parallel to that of your children so that you have something you can control too.
Identifying where you end and where your child starts is important to stop being a helicopter parent.
MORE PARENTING POSTS:
- How to raise resilient kids
- Top 12 qualities of a good parent
- 10 positive parenting skills every parent must have
- How to discipline kids without breaking their hearts (15 positive discipline techniques that work)
- 6 surprising reasons why you need to hug your kids every day
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