Helicopter parents are just that, parents that hover over the child’s head. We have all seen the Helicopter parent, they are always right over their child making sure their hands don’t get dirty, and the colors stay in the lines, they don’t let their child touch, the list could go on. I love seeing parents get involved, but when is too much? When do you cross the line? What does the constant hovering accomplish? It accomplishes the child being more reliant on the parent and thus learning to fall back on them instead of learning how make decisions and dealing with consequences. In the words of Ms.Frizzle (Remember the Magic School Bus?) Life is about taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy!
Plain and Simple: You are robbing your child of experiencing and learning life by making mistakes.
Before you say what if, let me be clear there is difference between hover parenting and being a good parent. We have all had those parenting moments where we throw our hands up because no matter how kid proof our houses are, my floors aren’t made of rubber and my busy toddler slipped and got a bloody nose. Sometimes life is going to happen, what isn’t effective is trying to prevent every single accident before it happens, thus in return stealing the ability to learn valuable life lessons.
What to do instead:
Stop living in fear for your child and let them learn. Here are a few questions I ask myself before getting in the pilot seat and taking control:
1. Is my child in immediate danger of physically harming themselves? Falling down isn’t a danger. I mean is my child going to burn themselves on the stove or run in front of a car? We have a saying in our house “No blood, no bones, no problem” In other words, kids learn their physical boundaries and limitations by getting hurt. Cause and Effect. No Parent wants to see their child get hurt, but every child needs to learn the cause for their action might be a harmful one.
2. Is it going to matter if it’s wrong? Example: Coloring in the lines. What does it accomplish by making a child color in the lines all of the time? Kids have imaginations, pure untainted imaginations. If dogs are purple and the sky is green, let it go! This isn’t saying don’t teach your child the correct way or the correct colors, this just simply means sometimes they need that creative outlet. Let them create a world that isn’t real. They are using a part of their brain that often times we as adults don’t use anymore. This goes for older kids too, they need a creative way to explore. This is often a stress relief!
3.It is ok to make messes! Hands wash, Clothes can be treated, and play can be messy! Kids love to learn by being tactile. Let them take their cars and Barbie’s and play in the mud! Let them touch and feel the world around them. Sometimes it’s worth the clean up to let my girl help me make dinner. It’s worth the extra laundry to know she felt mud between her toes. It’s worth the extra bath to see her paint with her hands. There is a time and place for all things, and we make sure we make time for messy play.
Long term, not hovering your kids will teach them to figure things out on their own. This will not only help them get through life, but manage on their own to become an independent and confident child. You can start by giving kids a little room to make their own decisions like teaching kids to Dress themselves and let them start making choices themselves. Bonus tip: Let go sometimes and let Dad Parent too! So Helicopter parents, while your intentions are good, let your child step out of your shadow and shine on their own.