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A few months ago, I started noticing how my mental health has been on a decline after having kids. 

I pondered about it for some days and then I realized why my stress is running high. 

I was not doing too much for kids. But I was going a bit high on the controlling side. I realized maybe I exhibit some signs of being a helicopter parent.

I was constantly worried about things like, if they are having too much screen time, too much junk food, etc, and hovering above them to make sure they are not doing this, that, etc.

Then I reached a point where I couldn’t take it anymore and then I realized I am not the only one who is suffering, but my kids too. They want their freedom and I want mine too. 

Well, sadly, I realized I have a few characteristics of a helicopter parent and that I needed to stop it soon. Slowly, I am learning to let go, and already feeling better mentally when I do it.

Do you think you are a helicopter parent too? Here are the signs to look for. 

SIGN#1 – YOU SOLVE PROBLEMS FOR KIDS

If you are always following your child and trying to solve every problem for them, or worse, if you are doing things to protect them from having any problem, you are probably a helicopter parent.

If they forget their homework and if it’s bedtime, you do it for them, as you can’t bear your child being reprimanded by the teacher. 

You fix their lunches even if they are old enough to do it. You pack their school backpacks even if they can do it. 

If they face a problem, you jump in to solve it for them. 

For example, if a toddler is trying to climb on a sofa, and the parent comes and pushes him without letting him try, it shows the overprotective nature of parents. 

SIGN#2 – YOU NEVER LET THEM PLAY ALONE OUTDOORS

Times have changed, and free-range play is not as recommended as it was a few decades ago. 

The news about abductions prevents us from letting kids roam around anywhere outside our supervision zone.

There are even reports that parents get arrested for letting kids play outside, claiming “kids were unsupervised and neglected”. So in this scenario how are kids supposed to play outside freely like in the ’90s or ’80s?

There are so many benefits to letting kids play outdoors alone, including improved confidence, reduced stress, more independence, etc. 

Kids playing outdoors spot a bug

So little by little, you can let the length of your leash be longer. Know the rules of your place, know your neighborhood, and according to the age of your children, you can slowly try giving them freedom and confidence to play outdoors. 

They should also be well-educated and warned about the possible threats too. If your kids are old enough, you can give them a basic dumb mobile phone to make sure you can reach them. 

SIGN#3 – YOU ARE ALWAYS GIVING INSTRUCTIONS

If you never let take kids any risk, it’s a sign that you are a helicopter parent. 

You are always giving instructions like, “don’t run too fast”, “do your homework”, etc. You are afraid more than the child to face the possible consequences. 

You are overprotective when you want to protect your child from failures and frustrations. You jump in with solutions when they look frustrated with even small problems. 

If you are a parent who can’t let your child run freely worrying that they will fall down and hurt themselves (and similar scenarios), you are being overprotective. 

In general, life involves risks. So it is necessary that children learn to deal with problems and pain and start facing them so that they can grow up to be resilient.

SIGN#4 – YOU COACH THEIR TEACHERS

If you find yourself advising your kids’ teachers and sports coaches, you might be a helicopter parent. 

If you are a parent who wants to know why your child was given a B grade instead of an A, or if you call your son’s teacher to enquire why he was not selected for the soccer team, you might be overinvolved.

SIGN#5 – YOU DO ALL THE CHORES AT HOME

If you are working as a maid and doing all the chores including that of your kids, you are training your kids for failure. 

Helicopter parents tend to do everything for them even though kids can absolutely make their bed in the morning, fold their clothes, and clean their room. 

They think their children are busy studying or doing homework and facilitate their studies by doing everything for them. It may help them in their studies but also make them grow less responsible and create a sense of entitlement.

Related: 

mom frustrated by chores

SIGN#6 – YOU DON’T LET THEM TAKE RISKS

If you are a helicopter parent, you are scared to see them fail and want to cushion them from every failure.

Helicopter parents can be heard saying “don’t run”, don’t walk alone, etc, because they want to avoid any case of mishaps. 

Yes, there are places where they shouldn’t run, but it should not be told when they are in open places (and I have heard parents who say this).

This can lead to creating risk-averse behaviors in kids. They will miss out on the opportunities to face challenges and build resilience.

It’s natural to feel worried about kids’ problems because we love them. 

But we should learn to let go of the controlling tendencies that arise from the worries and learn to draw a line for their benefit, and ours too.

SIGN#7 – YOU SPEAK FOR THEM

If you answer questions asked to your tweens or teenagers by teachers or other adults, it is a sign you might be a helicopter parent. 

You might be answering for them as you may be worried that their response won’t be appropriate.

But by doing that, you are stealing their voice. It can cause them to not speak for themselves when they are grown up.

And they may always rely on you or other people to make difficult conversations or even avoid difficult/awkward situations altogether.

When they are not given a chance to speak, they are not given the opportunity to be listened to and that can cause a lot of problems for the child down the road including mental health problems like anxiety and depression because they don’t know how to deal with their problems.

Helicopter parents can also be seen interfering in their children’s problems by speaking for them to their friends or friend’s parents, teachers, or even spouses. 

grandmother complaining about grandchild to mom

SIGN#8 – YOU RUSH TO FIX THEIR EMOTIONS

When you are a helicopter parent, you do not let them deal with their own emotions. 

You rush to stop them from crying and also to fix their problems and “save” them from other emotional frustrations. The parents try hard to stop their emotions and do whatever to make them happy. 

The result?

The child never learns to cope with emotions and self-regulate as they grow up. And as a result, they may later have to deal with anxiety and depression.

They do not learn to become functional adults. And they do not develop healthy emotional intelligence. 

SIGN#9 – YOU CHOOSE FOR THEM

Are you the one always deciding what kind of clothes to buy for your kids, what books they should read, and which course they should learn in college?

Do you choose which extracurricular activities they should have and which college they should go to?

Do you involve too much in the application procedures and make sure they do not fail in getting admission?

These are signs of helicopter parenting. Of course, we want the best for our kids. But part of growing up is making bad choices and learning from them. 

Their mistakes can help to shape their character and they learn to find their true purpose by trying different things and analyzing what works and what doesn’t. That’s an important lesson they need to learn in life.

woman makes a mistake in a scientific experiment

SIGN#10 – YOU CONSTANTLY MONITOR WHAT THEY DO

If you have the need to know where they are and what they do all the time, you might be a hovering parent. 

You have this need to know what they are doing all the time, so you check the GPS on their phone all the time and constantly call or text them while they are in the college hostel.

Helicopter parents can be seen fixing what their children do every hour of the day.

You often decide what they do and what they shouldn’t because you are afraid their choices may not be good enough.

Now that we know some of the signs of helicopter parenting, let’s see what the side effects of helicopter parenting are.

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF HELICOPTER PARENTING?

Even though there can be benefits, helicopter parenting affects children in many negative ways too.

CHILDREN OF HELICOPTER PARENTS MAY BE ENTITLED

When everything is done for them, kids may never get the opportunity to learn things by themselves which leads to irresponsible behavior. 

They start to expect that others should be responsible for their life and that their problems should be solved by others.

Learning from consequences is important for kids and the opportunity for the same is missed by them when hovering parents tend to save them from unpleasant situations. 

 Since everything is easily handed over to them, they don’t learn the value of hard work and they believe they deserve certain privileges.

angry entitled child playing with tablet

THEY LACK PROPER EMOTIONAL REGULATION

Overcontrolling can lead to poor emotional and behavioral regulation. The caretakers have an important role in the development of self-regulation in children. 

A parent’s calm and patient effort is required to help children during emotionally challenging moments to learn self-regulation. Children often lack these skills when they are young. 

Parents or other caretakers need to teach them the strategies required to deal with the disappointments and big emotions that accompany them.

Helicopter parents often interfere before the child has had the chance to feel their emotions and express them completely.

Children need to be exposed to challenging experiences to deal with frustrations and also fail in their ability to control impulses. 

They learn valuable lessons from the consequences.

But if a parent is exerting overcontrol and steal the opportunities from them, they don’t get enough practice to deal with their emotions and thus don’t learn proper self-regulation.

Related: 3 good reasons why we shouldn’t say “boys don’t cry”

THEY MAY DEVELOP MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

A 2014 study on college students shows that children raised by helicopter parents are more likely to be on medications for anxiety and depression. 

It happens because helicopter parents tend to be giving less freedom to kids. So kids lack the ability to face problems on their own.

This later leads to the inability to cope with frustrations and disappointments as an adult and make them prone to depression.

When parents are overcontrolling and too-much-strict, it can develop anxiety in kids. 

Some studies also show that overparenting can lead to narcissistic behaviors, attention-seeking, and wanting too much approval from others. 

Not only the children, but even parents also go through immense stress and anxiety if they are overparenting. You forget to live for yourself and you put yourselves in their shoes making their problems yours. 

a depressed girl

THEY FAIL TO DEVELOP SELF-EFFICACY

Self-efficacy is the confidence in one’s own abilities. It is the confidence one needs to face life challenges without being overwhelmed. 

Self-efficacy is required to regulate one’s behaviors and it plays a huge role in how we approach our goals. It helps to regulate our motivation and it influences how we strive for goal achievements. 

Children of helicopter parents also fail to develop good self-esteem since they are overparented. 

Self-esteem and self-efficacy are related. Self-esteem is the belief in one’s own worth. If a child doesn’t feel he is good enough, it automatically affects the development of self-efficacy. 

THEY DON’T DEVELOP LIFE SKILLS

One of the responsibilities of every good parent is to make sure their children grow up with skills that make them capable of living in the world. 

But how can kids learn to cook a meal or clean their living space if everything is always done for him?

And they also fail to get practice in solving problems. They can be too dependent on parents when they face challenges. 

Parents can be their safety net but children must be confident that they are capable of living on their own even without the safety cushion.

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