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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 February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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