There is nothing more heart-warming than parents who are actively involved in the lives of their little darlings – whether it be academically or emotionally, no kid in this world wants a dead-beat mom or dad. But too much of a good thing can also send any good situation into a proper epileptic fit. In the life of a child we call this helicopter parents. And no, this does not mean they throw air-doughnuts in their private chopper every weekend. It’s just because they HOVER!
This phrase refers to a parent who is over-focused on their children. This style of parenting can also be referred to as “lawnmower parenting,” “cosseting parent,” or “bulldoze parenting.” The first question needs to be asked why parents become like this and there are four common key triggers for this uncalled for parental behaviour:
Fear of dire consequences – a low grade, not making the team, or not getting a certain job can appear as a first-world problem to a parent, especially if it seems it could be avoided with more involvement.
Feelings of anxiety – worries about the economy (we all share in this unfortunately), the job market, and the world in general can push parents toward taking more control over their child’s life in an attempt to protect them. But also driving them loopy in the long run.
Overcompensation – adults who have mommy and daddy issues, felt unloved, neglected, or ignored as children can overcompensate with their own children. Excessive attention and monitoring are attempts to remedy a deficiency in their own lives.
Peer pressure from other parents
Yes, parents also have teenager-issues at some point. When parents see other overinvolved parents, it can trigger a similar response. Parents, believe it or not, also want to outshine each other and be the best at everything, including parenting. Guilt is a major factor, so when parents see or feel that they are being outshined when it comes to involvement in children’s lives, they tend to get overexcited and way too overinvolved.
But do parents ever stop to think what it will do their child’s self-esteem in the long run? These are the effects that come into play:
Decreased confidence and self-esteem – the underlying message of being “too much” that is being sent, causes a child to think that their parents don’t trust them to do things by themselves, which causes self-esteem issues that can play out into their adult lives causing issues with their careers and even their relationships.
Undeveloped coping skills – if mom and dad are always around to clean up a child’s mess, do their homework or prevent the problem in the first place, how does the child ever learn to cope with loss, disappointment, or failure? Studies have found that children feel less competent dealing with life’s issues. So please parents, leave little Johnny to solve his own Math problem first, before you try and jump in. Assisting is one thing, but help when you are asked to help.
Increased anxiety – a study from the University of Mary Washington has shown that over-parenting is associated with higher levels of child anxiety and depression. Doesn’t that spark a question in your mind why so many young children are on medication in the classroom?
Sense of entitlement – children who have always had their social, academic, and athletic lives adjusted by their parents to best fit their needs become brats to put it bluntly. If things are not the way the want it, a sense of entitlement develops. Real life does not roll like that sunshine.
Underdevelopment of life skills – parents who always tie shoes, clear plates, pack lunches, launder clothes, and monitor school progress, even after children are mentally and physically capable of doing the task, prevent their children from mastering these skill themselves. We are not helping raise the leaders of the future if they don’t even know what dishwashing soap feels like on their fingertips. And just like academics, your boss is not going to entertain your needs one day by spending all their free time shoving a golden spoon into your mouth.
Involvement in your child’s life is very important, don’t try and play the pilot the whole time. You don’t want the best years of your child’s school career spent on medication and in the therapist’s office breathing into a paper bag to prevent an anxiety attack. Charity begins at home… Equip your child to be the best they can be and send them into the world with all the life skills and proper foundations they need. Don’t make issues out of your childhood theirs. The gift of a child is to mould them to be great!
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