Am I a "helicopter parent?"

Your Child and Teen
Am I a "helicopter parent?"

Sometimes parents make choices about their children that may be seen as overprotective and undermining of a child's need to be self-sufficient. Educators use the term "helicopter parenting" to describe this.

It's not easy for parents to determine if they are over-stepping. A good rule to ask yourself: "Is my child capable of handling this situation himself?"  It can be especially difficult for a parent to show restraint when you fear your child might fail.  If the answer to this question is that yes, your child is capable of managing a particular aspect of her life, then parents do need to step back and accept the outcome of a child's behavior or choices.

Allowing your child to manage his own life allows him to learn to trust himself and improves his sense of self.  When a parent over-manages or protects a child, it robs her of self-sufficiency and can result in an anxious or depressed child.  It may leave him unable to feel confident about himself when he is inevitably faced with a difficult choice.

Knowing when to allow a child to "take the lead" when making a choice seems easy at the surface level.  After all, parents are busy; why would they create more work for themselves? However, there are factors that can leave a parent feeling unsure if a child is capable of making a decision or choice.

The fact that every child is different, with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses, makes the parental decision on intervening with a child's choices difficult. A child's development is ever-changing.  At times, both  parents and children feel pressure to make a decision quickly. Parents may have difficult accepting the outcome of a child's decision or  may feel it is easier to do it themselves. Finally, parents tend to make parenting choices similar to their own experiences with their parents.

The decision to let a child manage a situation begins in infancy and can span into early adulthood.  Beginning with the decision to allow a crying infant to self-soothe to a child's plan post high school, parents ask themselves if their children are capable of making choices. And there are many decisions in between, such as who a child chooses to  play with and how they resolve issues with their teachers.

Parents have the ability to "gift" children with personal skills that give them the solid foundation for a happy and successful life. Giving your children control of aspects of their lives that they are capable of managing leads to the growth of confident and competent young adults with a positive sense of self to meet life's challenges.