Helicopter Parenting: What It Is and How to Avoid It

Helicopter parenting is a term that was coined for over-parenting during the 1990s. It refers to a parent who hovers over their child constantly – like a helicopter – and watches their every move. This can have an adverse effect when the parent steps in to solve all of the child's problems in life. In some cases, children of these parents are slow in developing problem-solving skills, and become overly frightened of the world in general.

Parenting: How Much Is Too Much?

You'll have to gauge both your own comfort level and your child's level of maturity in order to avoid helicopter parenting. It's an easy trap for all of us to fall into, by the way. When your children are younger, it's absolutely necessary to step in, in some cases. Bumps and falls and conflicts with other children are things that every child has to go through, and you have to gauge when to jump in with both feet.

If your toddler is about to stick a metal fork in an electrical socket, it's not a good time to let him sort that out on his own. But if he's arguing with a sibling over a toy, it might be best to step back and let them work on issues like sharing and early conflict resolution.

The Risks of Helicopter Parenting

Everyone needs to learn when to avoid risks and how to resolve conflicts. Helicopter parenting often prevents this from happening, and those children can grow up into fearful adults. Researchers have found that the children of so-called helicopter parents don't socially develop as quickly. They're sometimes prone to obesity because their parents keep them in the house for longer stretches of time, as opposed to letting them explore outside (even if it's just the backyard).

You have every right to try to keep your children as safe as possible. Just remember that you can still do that without stepping in every single time something is about to go wrong. It can be difficult to watch our kids fall down and get hurt, but that's part of growing up. They have to leave the nest eventually, and they'll be better equipped to do so if you keep your helicopter at an extremely high altitude.