Helicopter parenting is a relatively new term in our cultural lexicon. It refers to today’s cultural tendency to parent with a keen eye towards protecting our children from any and all potential sources of harm, risk and disappointment. In many ways, helicopter parenting is synonymous with the notion of “over-parenting” and “hyper-parenting.”
Here are the best ways to avoid being one of the Helicopter parents
- Lighten up.
By spending so much time worrying, we are causing our children to be anxious, unadventurous, and afraid in a world that is safer in a lot of ways than ever before. Death by injury has dropped more than 50% since 1980, yet parents insist on removing jungle gyms from playgrounds. There are warning labels on everything from clothing to tables.
There are two types of risks: probable and possible. Anything is possible, but few of those are probable.
- Don’t let your emotions rule the roost.
Don’t let your actions get dictated by fear. Many parents spend their days operating in the “danger” mode. From child leashes to GPS systems that will automatically notify you if your child is out of range, parents invest heavily in ensuring their children’s safety.
The fact is that it’s more likely for your child to get injured in your car than abducted by a stranger (1 in 1.5 million) or even molested (80% of children get molested by friends or relatives). This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get prepared but do so in a way that allows your child to learn to be independent.
- Let the consequences do the talking.
Parents are going to extreme lengths to make sure their children succeed: everything from bringing forgotten notebooks to school, to requesting “parent packs” from college recruitment officers.
Kids learn by doing. Sometimes, doing means failing. By depriving your child of the chance to do things on their own, whether it’s a walk down the block to a friend, a school report, or choosing what classes to take their freshman year, you deprive them of the chance to grow. Failure alone is not the problem; it is the failure to learn from our mistakes that are ultimately the most dangerous enemy our children face.
- Let the play begin.
Children these days are overscheduled, micro-managed, and pushed to be better, smarter, stronger, and more talented -right from birth. The smart baby market is one of the most lucrative, matched only by a load of products geared towards their older siblings.
However, research shows that having free time just to play is critical to a child’s development in many areas. Cut down on the amount of scheduled extracurricular activities by at least 25%. Instead of dreading unstructured time, think of it as giving your child time to be themselves.