How To Avoid Being A Helicopter Mom
Have you ever heard the term helicopter mom, or helicopter parenting? It basically refers to overly-protective parents that are constantly “hovering” over their kids. It is not just about caring and worrying about your kids—which by the way is completely normal and healthy behavior (to a point).
It is more about these motherly actions becoming obsessive and transforming themselves into smothering behavior instead. A helicopter mom is not only doing a disservice to herself, but through her constant worry and anxiety-driven conduct she ends up robbing her kids of developing essential life skills.
Overprotected kids grow up to be insecure adults, often dealing with anxiety and other negative emotions about the world that were not theirs to begin with, but learned through the pressure inflicted on them by overly-protective parents.
Truth be told, this type of parenting can come from mom, dad, or any other guardian. But more often than not it is us mothers that take caring and worrying to extremes. Maybe it’s because of the strong mother-baby bond that nature has given us, or maybe it’s that females are just, in general, more nurturing.
Whatever the reason, let’s make sure we don’t become a helicopter mom, and if we suspect we are already guilty of this behavior let’s take action and correct our course now.
How to avoid becoming a helicopter mom:
- Look over, don’t hover: It is okay to watch your kid and be aware of when your intervention is actually needed. It is all about balance. If you are at the playground and you are so into your phone that you have no idea your kids is climbing on the wrong side of the protective mesh, well that would be wrong. But if you are on the playground and you are incapable of letting go of your seven-year-old’s hand for fear that he might want to use the hanging bridge, well then you need to back off a bit because your propellers are showing.
- Breathe and take a moment before you fly in: I know that seeing your child get frustrated with a task or in the middle of an argument with a friend might be very, very hard. But before you jump in to save him, give him a moment and believe that he might be able to solve it on his own. If you always intervene on their behalf then they will not be able to develop the confidence needed to deal with conflict later in life, and let’s face it, there will be conflicts no matter how much you hate that thought. But rest assured, conflict is growth . . . and viewed that way it’s not so horrifying.
- Work on your own anxiety: This is very important; a helicopter mom is not that way because she chooses to be so. She is that way because there are underlying issues of fear and anxiety that she is looking to calm down by trying to take control over every situation. So dealing with the root of the problem will liberate not only a lot of stress derived from the pressure of being a good parent but also will make you, by default, a better mom. Talk to a psychologist; take on meditation, and learn to relax; be aware of your triggers and work hard on letting go of control even if it is just a little bit at a time.
- Let them face consequences: This is a lesson you should never take away from your children. It is important that they learn that actions have consequences earlier in life, when the penalties they face will be lighter. A very common example I can give you is to not call their teacher to ask for makeup work after they have missed a deadline, or to demand a better grade from a test or paper that they did not really put much effort into. Have your kids learn how to negotiate their own deal with their teacher, let them have to work harder in order to bring the grade up, or let them have to take summer classes. There are logical situations that will need your intervention, but do not give your kids the message that they are victims and need rescuing all the time.
- Do not live through your kids: Often, helicopter moms were overprotected and controlled as kids and they were not able to fulfill some of the things they wanted. Break the cycle and make sure that you are letting your kids choose their own interests. Do not push them into certain activities or pressure them into a career because it’s what you would like them to do. Let them learn to take risks and to not be afraid of making mistakes. It is okay not to be the best at something (some helicopter moms can become extremely competitive). Remember that as a parent you might have brought them to life but that does not mean their life belongs to you.
A lot of parents will do anything for their kids, except let them be themselves. ~ Banksy (Tweet this)
It is normal to worry about your kids, to feel the need to be the one to shelter them and protect them from a harsh world. But when we go to extremes and that protection and guidance becomes an absolute fear and obsessive control, we start to be the ones causing the real harm to our children.
Love them; love them with all your heart! But also trust them; show them that you believe in them. Ensure that their confidence and their self-esteem don’t get shattered by making a mistake or by not getting what they wanted. Do not strive for their life to be perfect, that is an unattainable goal. A better aim for them is to be happy and the rest will follow.
Treat a child as though he already is the person he’s capable of becoming. ~ Haim Ginott (Tweet this)