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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 January 16, 2020

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

The way you feel about yourself greatly influences how you live and interact with others. If you are confident about yourself, you tend to see yourself positively and actually enjoy spending time with and around people. You don’t feel self-conscious or awkward around others, and that allows you to live your fullest and happiest life.

However, if you’re drowning in a sea of self-doubt, hesitancy and shyness, you often withdraw and isolate yourself from others and avoid interacting and connecting with people. That anxiety you feel in the pit of your stomach when you are around people is holding you back greatly and it is not good for your emotional health and overall well-being. You need to do something about it if you are low in self-confidence or have friends or family members who are not confident.

“Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone, it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone” – Anonymous

Here are simple, practical tips to boost your confidence right now and make you feel and act your best.

1. Stop labeling yourself as awkward, timid or shy.

When you label yourself as awkward, timid or shy, you sub-consciously tell your mind to act accordingly and psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations. Instead of labeling and entertaining negative self-talk, visualize and affirm yourself as confident and strong. Close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself in different situation as you would like to be.

Be your own cheerleader. Experts believe that positive affirmation and good mental practices like picturing yourself winning or achieving a goal can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prepare your brain for success.[1] As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” Picture yourself as confident and soon enough you will begin to manifest behavior that gives evidence to this new ‘fact.’

2. Recognize that the world is not focused on you (unless, of course, you are Kanye West).

That means you don’t have to be excessively sensitive about who you are or what you are doing (or not doing). You are not on the center stage; there is no need for preoccupation with self and perfectionism. As rap music star Rocko sings, “You just do you and I will do me, aight?”

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Forget about trying to please everyone or being perfect. Trying to be perfect and being a people-pleaser puts too much pressure on you and creates unnecessary anxiety. Besides, people are too preoccupied with their own issues to pay much attention to your every move unless, of course, you are a mega famous, super celebrity like Beyonce or Kanye West.

3. Focus on other people as opposed to yourself.

If you are low on confidence, self-conscious, nervous and shy in social situations, focus your attention on other people and what they are saying or doing instead of focusing on your own awkwardness.

For example, think about what it is that is interesting about the person who’s the centre of the party or the guy or girl you are talking with. Prompt them to talk more about themselves and be genuinely curious and interested in what they say. You will instantly come across as confident and warmhearted.

People generally want to talk about themselves, be heard and understood. They will love it when you’re eager and willing to listen to them and really hear what they have to say.

This habit of focusing more on what you love in others as opposed to what you dislike in yourself will not only help you become more assertive and comfortable in virtually all social situations, but also instantly make you feel great about yourself.

4. Know (and accept) yourself for who you are.

Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu, author of the internationally acclaimed book The Art of War, said, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” Even in the battle with lack of confidence, you will need to know yourself to win.

Knowing yourself starts with understanding that people are not all the same, neither are all social situation suitable for everyone. You might not be confident in large gatherings, but you could be bold and confident in one-on-one and small group interactions. We all have our own unique gifts and unique ways of expressing ourselves. Embrace yours!

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Introverts, for example, have a quiet confidence that is, unfortunately, often confused for shyness. They are naturally low key and prefer to spend time alone. However, this natural disposition affords them certain unique gifts, such as an ability to listen better than most people and notice things that others don’t.

Your uniqueness is where your strength and advantage lies. You won’t be comfortable and confident in all situations all the time. Albert Einstein said,

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

5. Crack a smile.

If there is one sure way to instantly boost your confidence, it’s cracking a smile. Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at The George Washington University, says that flashing those pretty, pearly white teeth will immediately make you appear both confident and composed. But, the effect of smiling is not just external. Studies show that smiling can also help nix feelings of stress and pave the way for a happier and more relaxed you.[2]

Not a bad return for something seemingly so trite, wouldn’t you agree?

6. Break a sweat—with exercise.

Working out is another great way to make yourself feel amazing and confident. Science has shown that exercising increases your endorphins, helps reduce stress, tones your muscles and makes you feel happy and confident.[3]

And hey, all you have to do is take a walk a few times a week and you’ll see the benefits. What seems to matter—as far as your confidence goes—is whether you break a sweat, not how strenuous your session is, which is pretty cool. Start working out now.

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7. Groom yourself.

This might seem mundane, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a shower and shave can have on your confidence and self-image. And when you spritz on a scent, the boost on confidence and self-esteem is incredible. As it turns out, your favorite fragrance does more than make you smell oh-so-nice.

A study found that a fragrance can inspire confidence in men. Interestingly, the study also found that the more a man likes the fragrance, the more confident he might feel. Another study found that 90% of women feel more confident while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free.

8. Dress nicely.

Another one that might seem trite, but it works. If you dress nicely, you’ll instantly feel good about yourself and give your confidence a real boost. That is largely because you’ll feel attractive, presentable and sometimes even successful in nice clothes.

While dressing nicely means something different for everyone, it does not necessarily mean wearing $500 designer outfits. It means wearing clothes that are clean, that you are comfortable in and that are nice-looking and presentable, including casual clothes.

9. Do activities you enjoy.

Whether it is reading a book, playing a musical instrument, riding your bicycle or going fishing, do what you really enjoy and what makes you truly happy often. It will boost your self-esteem, soothe your ego and allow you to identify with your gifts and talents. That will in turn bolster your self-belief and grow your confidence exponentially.

You might not become popular for doing what you love, but you might not even want to be popular at all. Being popular doesn’t make you happy; doing what you love does.

10. Prepare for the possibility of rejection / setback.

Late World No. 1 professional tennis player Arthur Ashe said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation.” You need to prepare for the possibility of rejection and setback.

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Why?

Everybody suffers rejection and setback at one point or another. You are not exempted. The question on your mind, therefore, should not be if you will be rejected, but how you will handle rejection when it comes.

Prepare yourself adequately in every situation to minimize the risk and effect of rejection and so that your confidence is not broken. For example, learn public speaking and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand if you have landed a public speaking engagement. That way, you are sure of yourself and confident you have what it takes to hack it. If you are rejected, don’t take it personally.

Rejection and setbacks happen to the best of us. Take it as a learning experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

11. Face uncomfortable situations square in the face.

Don’t run away from uncomfortable situations. Running away from people or situations because you feel scared, shy or timid only confirms and reinforces your shyness. Instead, face the situation that makes you uneasy square in the face. For example, go ahead and talk to that person you are afraid to approach, or go straight to the front of your yoga class! What’s the worst that can happen?

Prepare and be ready for any eventuality. The more you face your fears, the more you realize you are stronger than you thought and the more confident you get. This simple, yet admittedly courageous, act makes you unstoppable. You get comfortable being uncomfortable and begin to feel like you can take on the world. And that is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.

12. Sit up straight and walk tall—you are awesome!

Yes, sit up straight and believe you are awesome. Don’t slump in your chair or slouch your shoulders. Experts say the right stance can not only keep your self-esteem and mood lifted, but also lead to more confidence in your own thoughts.[4]

The way to sit is to open up your chest and keep your head level so that you look and feel poised and assured. And when you get up, stand tall and walk like you’re on a mission. People who sit up straight and walk tall are more attractive and instantly feel more confident. Try it now: you’ll feel fierce and confident just by sitting up straight and walking tall.

Featured photo credit: Freshh Connection via unsplash.com

Reference

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