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5 Ways Helicopter Parents Can Ruin A Child’s Sense of Independence

5 Ways Helicopter Parents Can Ruin A Child’s Sense of Independence

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”- Anne Landers

Helicopter parenting is on the increase, it seems. It simply means that parents are always hovering and ready to rescue a child, a teenager or even college student from negative experiences, danger, risks, and failure. Overprotective parents have always existed but they are now on the rise.

According to an Indiana University study, about 38% of the interviewees reported their parents were very often ready to intervene. Parents themselves often admitted that they helped their kids – in fact, the 2013 Pew Research Survey found that 73% had helped their adult children by financing them.

The problems encountered down the line by these kids is that they face a rather brutal adult world that they are totally ill-equipped to deal with, including: poor grades, hard decisions, managing personal finances, failure at sports and at school. In addition, they can find themselves to be totally inept when it comes to doing household chores when they move into a flat on their own or with other students.

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Here are 5 things that helicopter parents do that these children, teenagers, and adults can relate to only too well.

1. They always take them to school

These kids are always taken to school and never allowed to get the bus, subway or even walk to school if it is not too far. Parents always hold their kids’ hands and some of them make sure that they accompany them right into class! They are also far too involved in arguments with teachers, sports coaches and umpires. They will not let their kids stand up for themselves.

Lenore Skenazy recently gained fame as the “world’s worst mom.” Watch the video where she explains how and why she let her nine year old ride the subway alone.

2. They prevent them from developing coping skills

Kids need to learn how to do things, fend for themselves, fight their own corner and also cope with hardship and disappointment. it seems that helicopter parents are swooping in whenever there is even a vague possibility of risk or discomfort. Julie Lythcott-Haims is the author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. How you wish your parents had read this book when you were younger!

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“Our job as a parent is to put ourselves out of a job, we need to know that our children have the wherewithal to get up in the morning and take care of themselves.”- Julie Lythcott-Haims.

3. They will never let their children indulge in risky play

Helicopter parents ban tree climbing and refuse to allow their children to get grazes, cuts; these children will also never face the challenge of getting lost and finding their way back home. It is ridiculous to discover that helmets are now sold to prevent toddlers getting hurt when they fall, while learning to walk!

The National Trust in the UK is launching a campaign to get kids to play in the countryside and get away from their PlayStations. A UK Parliamentary group has also advised parents that exposure to risk is an essential element for a balanced childhood:

“Risky play, involving perhaps rough and tumble, height, speed, playing near potentially dangerous elements such as water, cliffs and exploring alone with the possibility of getting lost, gives children a feeling of thrill and excitement.”

4. They are far too much involved in their kids’ college education

Students are supposed to be self-sufficient and highly motivated to take on new challenges. But through being ever present, helicopter parents prevent the development of such skills. Business and law schools are torn between allowing parents to be present and forbidding them for the benefit of students and staff, because the parents are footing the bill.

These helicopter parents are showing up on campus visits normally reserved for students. They have no hesitation in writing the resumes for their offspring and then calling the admissions office to check up on its arrival.

“This is not a strategy for long-term well-being. It is always better to empower children to make good choices for themselves rather than having them remain dependent on parents to sort out problems for them.”- Michael Ungar, psychologist at the Resilience Research Center at Dalhousie University.

5. They are increasing the risk of their children becoming mentally ill

Research now clearly indicates that all this hovering and protecting is having damaging effects on their children’s mental health. One research study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies shows that the students of overprotective parents were less satisfied with their life and were more prone to suffering from anxiety and depression. These students reported a real desire to feel more self-reliant and autonomous, as they lacked self-confidence.

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Thanks Mom and Dad!

Featured photo credit: Monkeys climbing tree/ Julle Allcea via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

When someone says, “I can’t do it” . . . I say to myself, “What do you mean you can’t do it?” Maybe you don’t want to do it, but saying you “can’t” do it is a completely different story.

With the right mindset, positive attitude, and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, the only thing that is holding you back is yourself.

Can’t is a terrible word and it has to be taken out of your vocabulary.

By saying you can’t do something, you’re already doubting yourself, submitting to defeat, and you’re making that barrier around your life tighter.

So today, right now, we are going to remove this word for good.

From now on there is nothing we can’t do.

“Attitude is Tattoo”

Your attitude is everything; it’s your reason, your why and how, your facial expression, emotions, body language, and potentially the end result. How you approach an opportunity, and the result of it, is solely based on you — not your boss or your co-worker or friend.

If you enter a business meeting with a sour attitude, that negative energy can spread like wildfire. People can also feel it — maybe even taste it. This is not an impression you want to leave.

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Now imagine you enter a business meeting with a positive attitude, that whatever happens in here is going to be your result, in your control, not someone else’s. Of course, we can’t always win, but even if the outcome is negative, your attitude and perception can turn it into a positive. The question is: can you do it?

Of course you can, because there is nothing in this world you can’t do.

It’s much better to be known for your positive attitude — your poise, your energy, the reason why things go so well because you are able to maintain such character. A negative attitude is easy. It’s easy to complain, it’s easy to be mad, and it’s even easier to do nothing to change it.

When I say your “attitude is tattoo”, it sounds permanent. Tattoos can be removed, but that’s not the point. Your attitude is like a tattoo because you wear it. People can see it and sometimes, they will judge you on it. If you maintain a negative attitude, then it is permanent until you change it.

Change your attitude and I guarantee the results change as well.

Believe You Can Do It

Do you know why most people say “can’t” and doubt themselves before trying anything?

It’s our lack of self-confidence and fear on many different levels. The one thing we have to purge from ourselves is fear — fear of bad results, fear of change, fear of denial, fear of loss, the fear that makes us worry and lose sleep. Worrying is the same as going outside with an umbrella, waiting for rain to hit it. Stop worrying and move on.

Confidence is fragile: It builds up slowly, but can shatter like glass. Project your confidence and energy into believing in yourself. This is a very important and groundbreaking step — one that is usually the hardest to take. Start telling yourself you can do something, anything, and you will do it the best to your ability. Remove doubt, remove fear, and stick with positive energy.

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Embrace Failure

Do not fear failure. Do not run away from it. Face it, learn from it, grow, and take action. Just remember: You will never know success if you have never failed.

Your confidence will bolster after embracing these facts. You will be immune to demoralizing results, and instead you will find ways to fix it, improve upon it, and make it better than before. You will learn to never say “can’t,” and will realize how many more opportunities you can create by removing that one word.

Don’t let one simple and ugly word plague your confidence. You’re better and stronger than that.

Start Making the Change

But to actually start the process of change is very challenging.

Why is that?

Fear? Time? Don’t know how — or where — to start?

It’s hard because what we’re doing is unlearning what we know. We are used to doing things a certain way, and chances are we’ve been doing them for years.

So here are some ways that I avoid using the word “can’t”, and actually take the steps to put forth the change that I wish to see. I hope you can incorporate these methods into your life.

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Write down What You Want to Change

Write it on post-its, notecards, whatever makes you comfortable — something you will always see. I usually write mine on post-its and put them all over the wall behind my monitor so I always see them.

Tell a Friend and Talk About It

Discussing your goals, what you want to change, is very effective when you say it out loud and tell another person other than yourself. It’s almost like saying, hey, I bet I can do it — watch me.

When you fulfill that goal and tell your friend, it feels rewarding and will motivate you to do it again in a different aspect. Who knows? Maybe your friend adopts the same mindset as you.

Stop Yourself from Saying the Forbidden Word

Sometimes,I can’t control myself in public when I’m with friends, so I have to be careful with the words I use so I don’t embarrass or insult anyone.

Treat the word “can’t” as the worst word you can possibly use. Stop yourself from saying it, mid-sentence if you must, and turn your whole perspective around — you can do it, you will do it, and nothing is impossible!

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

You think this change will be overnight? No way. This is a practice. Something you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life from now until forever.

As I said earlier, you are unlearning what you know. You know how easy it is to say you can’t do something, so by unlearning this easy practice, you’re self-disciplining yourself to live without boundaries.

Practice this everyday, a little at a time, and before you know it, the word can’t will not be part of your language.

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Do Anything That Can Relieve Your Uncertainty

When I catch myself saying I can’t do something or I don’t know something, looking up information on that action or subject, doing research, educating yourself, relieves that uncertainty.

Sometimes, we think we can’t do something because the whole idea of it seems too large. We skip the small steps in our head and only focus on the end.

Before you say you can’t do something, rewind and slow down a little bit. Focus on what the first step is, then the next. Take it a step at a time, and before you know it you will have done something you previously thought you couldn’t do.

Final Thoughts

You know what you must do. The first step is right now. Once you begin this habit, and really start noticing some change, you’ll realize the door to opportunity is everywhere.

The funny thing is: Those doors have always been there. The evil word that we no longer use put a veil over our eyes because that’s how powerful that word is.

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Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

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