Are you a helicopter parent, overly protective and unwilling to let your child fail?

Taking Action
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – It’s a type of parenting that has gotten a lot attention lately. A quick search on the term “Helicopter Parenting” defines it as a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.

They get the name because, like helicopters, they hover overhead and often become overly involved in their child’s life.

Dr. Stacy Ikard with Cornerstone Counseling Center in Huntsville says she’s seen this first-hand in her work.

“I think we see it a lot with first time moms, and I also think we see it with moms that are a little bit older,” explained Dr. Ikard. “Then what happens is as time goes on, they don’t let go and let the children continue to become more independent and grow independently.”

As parents, it’s hard to recognize those “helicopter” tendencies. Especially because they typically come from a genuine and caring place. But micromanaging your child’s affairs can have drawbacks much later in life. Academics can take a hard hit later.

“I think if we can start as parents letting our children experience academics, have academic failures, have social failures, have fights with friends and let them resolve the conflict instead of us as parents always stepping in, we can really help them in the long run,” said Dr. Ikard.

And this means starting to give your kids some freedom as early as preschool.

Here are some additional tips:

• Identify when you feel upset and want to jump in and save the day. This is your chance to back up and give guidance instead.
• Don’t solve all your child’s problems.
• Show you kids how you handle adversity. Remember to let them know we aren’t perfect and neither are they.
• Ask your child’s other caregivers what tasks he does when you’re not around, then hold him to that standard at home.

Bottom line: It’s all about balance. Remember, giving your child a little freedom will go a long way.