As parents, we want to do our best to ensure our children grow up in the most loving and safest environment. But sometimes parents can become almost too protective and over-beating – in other worlds, a “helicopter parent.”
Helicopter parents are known to worry incessantly about their children's safety, hover over their every movie, and over-cater to their every need. While the motivation for this kind of parenting is fueled by love, helicopter parenting can cause children to eventually have a difficult time making decisions and handling conflicts on their own.
In fact, new research suggests that children who have helicopter parents as toddlers, are less are less able to control their emotions and impulses as they get older, leading to more problems with school. Eventually these children will have difficulties copying with real-life problems when parents aren’t there to shield them.
While parents are well-intentioned, they need to take a step back to allow their children to experience a range of emotions, and practice learning how to manage them.
1. Allow Your Children To Do Things On Their Own
Helicopter parents love to swoop right in as soon as they see their young child struggle, for example, tying their shoes, or zipping up their jacket. Practice patience and allow them the opportunity to handle these things on their own. Once you get more comfortable with them doing everyday activities on their own, you may feel better about letting them deal with more complicated situations as they grow older – like making their own lunch, walking to school, and locking the house door. Allowing kids to do things on their own will prepare them for later when they need to be more self-sufficient.
2. Allow Your Child To Explore
Of course parents want their children to be safe from harm. But parents need to take a step back and give them a chance to explore on their own. If you want your children to learn how to navigate the world, they need to be able to step out of their comfort zone sometimes. For example, allow your young child to climb the play structure at the part without your supervision, or ride a scooter even though they could fall and scrape a knee. Of course you’ll be nearby, but give them room to discover without your direct assistance.
3. Give Your Child Choices
You don’t need to pick out their clothing every day; give into them and allow hyour kids to asser their own independence by choosing what outfit they will wear.
Start letting your children make small decisions. You can begin with small choices – for example, allow your child to pick out their clothing for school, or choose the activity or game to play with you. The more accustomed they are to making small decisions for themselves, the better prepared they will be to make more important decisions later. Show your child their opinion matters too – for example, ask them to choose a meal for a family dinner.
4. Allow Kids To Learn
Not every moment has to be a teaching lesson. Encourage your child to read, explore and figure things out on his own. For example, don’t solve a puzzle because he gets frustrated; allow him to finish the task by himself. When kids are older, don’t do their homework for them; parents can help, but only act as a guide to answer questions, but not to solve the problem. Doing their homework, even together, sends the message that they cannot do it themselves.
5. Let Your Children Choose Their Own Interests
Instead of choosing the extracurricular activities you feel your child will enjoy, allow them to choose which activities they will participate in. Your toddler loves kicking a soccer ball, or throwing a baseball; it wouldn’t make sense to sign him up for violin lessons. If your children don't seem interested in trying new activities, you can still encourage them to do so. Look for opportunities that will allow them to test out a new activity without making a big commitment, for example, a trial class or two to see if your child enjoys the activity without having to spend a big chunk of money upfront.
When parents are overprotective and micromanage their kids' lives, those kids later struggle to cope with life as an adult. The ultimate goal as parents is to raise kids who eventually be independent and self-sufficient adults.