When you think about the future of your kids are you relieved or are you anxious?
Or are you both, at the same time?
Relief probably indicates that your child is fairly independent and wise when it matters. Giving you the feeling that they’ll always make the best decisions. Kudos to you, you’ve definitely played a significant role in how they’ve turned out.
Anxiety, on the other hand, could be due to a string of bad decisions by your child or perhaps just a few bad decisions that worried you? Maybe your child has made no bad decisions but you’re generally anxious about the people you love, does that sound familiar?
If the latter is true you should take a step back and objectively view your child as their own person. Pretend you haven’t met them before but have just been informed of their entire history. Maybe you’ll see that your child is wise as well and that all the anxiety does is ruin your health.
Even if there are a few bad decisions in your child’s past, give them another chance. They might just surprise you.
What is helicopter parenting?
Extreme anxiety about your child can lead to helicopter parenting which takes a negative toll on the child as well. Helicopter parents are always hovering over their children protecting and advising even when the situation is something that the child can tackle alone. This limits their independence and stifles their ability to integrate into society with ease since their parent usually steps in to fight their battles.
Helicopter parenting leads to quite a few consequences for your child. Take for example that your son comes home one day and complains that some classmate taunted him. If you immediately call up that classmate’s parent to set it straight, you’re not really doing your child a favor. That call is more for you than for him. He is probably going to get taunted further or maybe even become a slight outcast because of your actions. (If it wasn’t a simple taunt but something vile instead, by all means, reach out to the parent)
Helicopter parents usually want to keep their children within eyeshot or want to be informed of exactly where their child is at every moment. While these actions are out of concern, they limit the child’s independence and opportunities.
If the hovering trends aren’t corrected and follow into your child’s teenage years be prepared for a massive backlash even if they didn’t mind the helicopter parenting when they were younger. Teenagers yearn for freedom, privacy and independence. A helicopter parent is their worst nightmare.
How can a parent stop hovering over their kids?
There are a few steps any helicopter parent can use to break the cycle:
- Make a list of everything that you do for your children which they could do for themselves.
- Now, look at everything on that list (and here’s a twist from traditional lists) stop doing those things. One-by-one.
Start with the easy stuff, the things you can easily stop doing for them without boosting your anxiety. As you watch them complete these tasks with no help, your confidence in their abilities will grow. Thus making it easier for you to stop doing even the tougher stuff.
- Let them do those things they’ve been asking permission for. Those tasks which you realize are not really dangerous to them but were only denied due to the anxiety it causes you. Maybe take a short bus ride all by themselves or let them go swimming without you swimming right beside them.
- Make them understand that you will not fix everything for them. If somebody called them a name, they should resolve it. If they got a bad grade, you won’t call the teacher and fight for the grade (unless it’s obviously unfair, of course). They will have to learn to be their own person and fix their own problems.
- If they’re extremely used to you doing certain things for them even though they’re capable of doing it themselves and are adamant that you do it for them. Remove yourself from the scenario. If they throw a tantrum, let them. Eventually, they’ll do what they have to by themselves and they will be all the more independent for it.
Don’t give them too much space
In the end, remember that you’re not removing yourself as their parent or stepping out on them. You’re simply giving them room to grow and be themselves. You must still always be there to listen to your children and give them advice, simply remember not to step in if the task is something they can and should do for themselves.