[ By R. Alexandra ]
To label helicopter parenting as ‘negative’ would be doing a disservice to parents. Helicopter parenting like many things in life has a time and a season. You can’t expect a nine-month-old who’s crawling around with the thrill of curiosity to be able to identify what’s dangerous or not, this is a time where hovering and constantly protecting them is a necessity. However, in that very same way, you can’t expect a teenager who’s having a disagreement with their friends to have their parents solve the issue for them. This is why as parents it is important to know how and when to loosen the reigns as this will enable your kids to live their best lives.
How do I know if I am a helicopter parent?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1. Do I constantly try to protect my child from experiencing pain?
2. Do I feel like a failed parent when my child faces disappointment?
3. Do I care more about what other people think of me then what my child needs?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, this expresses some form of hovering as a parent.
How do I avoid being a helicopter parent?
1. Identify boundaries
At every age and every stage, there are boundaries that both parent and child need to identify. When boundaries are not set and are unclear, the more a child will be dependent on a parent. Setting boundaries and evolving them to better suit you and your child as they grow and develop is one of the first steps that parents need to take. You may not expect a 3-year-old to clean their room but a teenager certainly should have the responsibility of this aspect of his or her life. As each child age’s little responsibilities need to be passed on to teach them how to be less dependent.
2. Listen To Your Child
Children are always communicating with us from the time they are born, when they are babies and toddlers, it’s a parents job to try and identify what a child is feeling due to their lack of communication skills. Unfortunately, this level of care needs to evolve as a child gets older, parents odd to try listening more to what their kids are saying rather than impose what you think they are feeling. By asking questions and helping a child identify what it is they are feeling and experiencing, you allow them to work through their situations rather than having you simply interject and fix it.
3. Allow Small Decisions
Don’t decide everything for them, from a young age start allowing them to make small decisions like, picking their wardrobe for the day or even deciding what activity they would like to do in the evening. These little tasks will teach them how to listen to themselves and help them make decisions as they grow.
4. Let Them Learn From The Consequences
“Actions have consequences”, for parents who hover, having to watch your kids stumble and fall from their own choices may be too tough to handle. However, allowing a child to take responsibility for his or her choices will teach them how to make better choices in the future. Having said that, if a consequence proves to be detrimental to a child’s health and safety, parents should intervene. But mostly, natural consequences prove to have a positive impact on children.
Licensed Psychiatrist Heather Senior Monroe says “Allowing your teen to explore different facets of self and claim their identity in healthy ways is key to remaining supportive and staying involved in their lives.” Parenting children these days looks very different and comes with its own set of challenges that many parents may not have faced 30 or even 50 years ago and that’s because the times have changed. What hasn’t changed is that at the end of the day every parent wants is to ensure that their kids are being developed into happy wholesome adults. It may not be easy to loosen the reigns and reduce the hovering, but as your kids learn to be more independent of you, you too can learn to be more independent of them. This way together you cultivate a happier, healthier relationship.