Is helicopter parenting a parenting style

Helicopter mother: definition, causes and consequences of overprotection

There are mothers and also fathers who are a little too specific when it comes to caring for their children. Climbing and balancing on tree trunks? No, the child could fall! Do you have to cover the 500 meters to school alone when you are eight? Way too dangerous.

The phenomenon of the helicopter mother is a constant topic in the media and is viewed critically by many educational experts. Would you like to know where loving parenting begins and where overprotection begins? In this post you will learn what makes a helicopter mother and how parents find a healthy mediocrity for themselves.

Table of Contents

1. Definition of “helicopter mother” - what is it?

Helicopter mothers can't let go of their children.

The term “helicopter parents” was probably first used in 1990 by the American psychiatrists Foster W. Cline and Jim Fay. Since it literally stands for overly cautious parents who are constantly circling their child like a helicopter. Maria's parents don't trust the kindergarten teachers to know what's good for their little daughter. Then maybe an instruction ends up in the daycare compartment, which specifies exactly to the minute how the child is to be accompanied into the afternoon nap.

Helicopter mothers also find it difficult to let go at school and insist on being able to come along on a class trip, because otherwise the Filius could feel alone.

you live in constant fear that something might happen to their childwhat could not help his physical or mental development. Here you have neither trust in the increasing independence of the child nor in the skills of educators. In the public eye, the helicopter mom is particularly present, the relationship between father and son is seldom the focus.

These general characteristics distinguish helicopter mothers:

  • Constant proximity: Helicopter mothers would like to Spend time with your child as often as possible. Even if play friends visit younger children, they would like to be part of the game or at least be a part of it. It is more difficult for the mother to cut the cord than for the child.
  • control: Helicopter mothers would like to Control over their life and that of the children to have. A compulsion to perfection is part of it: through the best possible early childhood support, the child should have the best conditions for life. This includes choosing the best kindergarten and school, friends from a household with a high level of education, and choosing hobbies that have a “purpose”.
  • Assumption of complete responsibility: By having helicopter mothers in control of the child's résumé, they also keep track of their offspring's way to school. you feel responsible for itto pave the way for the child to succeed in school.
  • Increased need for security: Helicopter mothers feel responsible for the safety of their child in every respect. That leads to that in Germany an average of two out of three children drove to school by car although the route could also be done on foot or by bike.

2. Causes of the occurrence of helicopter parents

There is no clear opinion about what causes helicopter parenting. However, it is a phenomenon that affects society as a whole and is becoming ever more pronounced. In an increasingly complicated world that demands more and more structuring and motivation from adults, children are often seen as another “project”. This impulse starts with babies and continues into toddlerhood until the children are grown up. Even then, these parents often cannot let go.

2.1. Parenthood as a project

The project “Parenthood” should be made successful by everything is done for the best possible development of the child. This includes eliminating possible "disruptive factors". If Louis gets bad marks in math, it's the teacher's fault. He has to ensure that the child is given the best possible support, which should be shown in good grades.

Become the same Playmates are selected according to whether they are in any way conducive to the development of their own child are. So Maria shouldn't play with Laura, who likes to wear pink and only plays with dolls. That doesn't fit into the gender understanding of the progress-conscious helicopter mother.

The well-known Danish family therapist Jesper Juul throws parents who preselect the social life of their own children in this way, one pronounced narcissism in front.

2.2. Lack of role models in education and social pressure

With globalization, more and more families are scattered around the world. The proverbial village that is necessary to raise a child is missing. Parents then lack tangible role models in their upbringingthat could serve as a guide. You are insecure and yet only want the best for their child. Then you may read a lot of parenting guides that offer a lot of tips and stories for an optimal upbringing.

Instead of calming down, this literature is even more confusing. It takes away parents' natural gut feeling that tells them what is right for the child. Mothers and fathers then quickly only see the dangers and pitfalls in everyday life.

In addition, children are more likely to remain only children. This helps parents to focus on the Focus on this one child. If the family then still lives in a city, parents are even more focused on not exposing their child to a dangerous situation: the busy street, rubbish in playgrounds, the poisonous weeds in the park, dogs running freely, careless cyclists and the lively city life in general automatically pose a threat to life and limb.

In English, helicopter parents are also called "paranoid parents". In Danish, the metaphor "curlingbarn" developed from sport, because, as in the sport of curling, parents "brush aside" all obstacles for their children.

Helicopter mothers and fathers lack a healthy amount of caution and forbearance. The consequences of this overprotection are seldom beneficial for the development of children.

3. Consequences of extreme overprotection

Helicopter parents take all responsibility from their child.

Some smile at helicopter mothers, others are seriously worried. Studies indicate that Helicopter mothers harm the health of their children just as much as parents who neglect their children.

One of the most famous studies comes from Nicole B. Perry of the University of Minnesota and her team. They observed, among other things, that children of helicopter parents Having trouble controlling their impulses. In some cases, they have problems adjusting to social groups and processing deficits in performance. If Paul is always told by his mother what to do, he simply lacks the experience to act independently. Children have to have many different experiences and also have to accept failures at one point or anotherto strengthen their social skills. Children of helicopter parents miss that.

3.1 Parents taxi

In recent years there have been more traffic jams and accidents in front of schools because parents drive their children to school. Some schools have Ban circles from 200 to 300 meters called out so that pupils have to cover the last few meters of the way to school independently.
Exactly this Denial of personal experiences is the cause of the results, according to the study. If a child is never allowed to climb a tree because their parents are afraid they might fall, they will develop less courage to face challenges. If a child is never confronted with having to prove himself in a group, this weakens his social skills. Likewise, parents must learn to leave children aloneso that they can survive in groups without the direct support of their parents.

Good to know:Scientists from the University of Toronto and Bowling Green State University have confirmed with their study that the constant closeness between parents and children has no beneficial effect.

4. Recommendations for an appreciative upbringing

Helicopter mothers also try to control older children.

Whether you are one of the helicopter mothers yourself or you deal with them every day as an educator - it is important to know what an appreciative and balanced upbringing can look like.

Being a helicopter parent represents an extreme of overprotection and thus hits something over the target. There are three areas in which parents should observe and reflect on their own behavior.

  • security: All parents want their child to be safe. But that shouldn't mean that you avoid all sticky or potentially dangerous situations. Rather, it is about that Parents help their children learn the skills they need to get through life safely. Because: Not only the bicycle helmet protects against accidents, but above all the competence to move safely in traffic. Parents need to give their children space for their own experiences. Only if you have a bleeding knee while playing will you learn to better assess risks. If they don't get this opportunity, they lack a good deal of self-awareness.
  • responsibility: When a child is very young, parents are responsible for their well-being and development. But even toddlers under the age of three can learn bit by bit what it means to be responsible for something. With small tasks such as hanging up your jacket on your own every day or clearing the dishwasher in a playful way, you build self-confidence and experience the feeling of self-efficacy: You become aware that you can actively shape your environment. Do parents take everything from their children and protect them in school from confrontations with teachers and arguments with classmates, the child does not learn to take responsibility for their own actions.
  • security: Love and security are among the most important prerequisites for a good child development. However, it is not necessarily reflected in the fact that parents are constantly buzzing around the child and responding to all of the child's needs without restriction and immediately. The loving relationship between parents and child rather forms the framework for an education that focuses on raising children to be independent people. If children feel constantly being watched and tamed, they get the feeling that they are only loved when they function. You react with resignation and the parent-child relationship suffers.

5. Books about helicopter parents

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Helicopter mother: definition, causes and consequences of overprotection
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Photo credits: YoImages / Adobe Stock, Leonid / Adobe Stock, Syda Productions / Adobe Stock, JackF / Adobe Stock, contrastwerkstatt / Adobe Stock (sorted by order in the article)