If you are familiar with the term, “helicopter parents,” you probably know what it looks like. Helicopter parenting typically produces visions of parents constantly hovering over their children as they participate in activities, do their homework, and even get ready for bed.
This behavior comes from love but quickly turns to obsession as parents take over-the-top lengths to protect and provide for their children. If you are concerned that you may be a helicopter parent, here are three things to let your children do without you hovering around them.
Let Them Fall
When your child was first learning to walk, they stumbled, fell, and cried. You could see the frustration in their little bodies as they could only manage a few steps before toppling over. Your first instinct as a parent may have been to rush and pick them up, dusting off their bottoms before they tried again. But children need to learn. It teaches them about gravity. Learning to fall is one of the steps of learning how to walk. Plus, it teaches them when life pushes them down when they are older that they need to get back up and keep pushing forward.
This same lesson is taught when they learn to ride a bike. They’ll get going a few paces before losing their balance and wrecking. Unless they hurt themselves or they cry for your help, don’t rush to brush them off. Let them feel sorry for themselves and then get back up and try again.
If you are constantly hovering and not allowing them to fall, you may be setting your child up for a crippling fear of failure and of disappointing others.
Let Them Ask
How do you know your child needs help? Is it a magical tingle that helps you sense their every need? If you are hovering over your child, you’ll begin to think that their every hesitation and question is a plea for help. Unless they specifically ask for your help, don’t dive in.
This helps your child learn to express things verbally instead of throwing fits. It also teaches your children to keep trying. Plus, you want your child to grow up knowing how to figure out their own problems. Plus when children aren’t afraid of failure or of trying new things, they are more likely to develop higher self-esteem and make their own decisions.
Let Them Be Independent
Whether it’s working on homework or while they play, children need to learn to do things by themselves. If you are circling like a helicopter, your children will assume you are always available… but let’s face it, you have a list of things you need to get done without interruption.
This is not to say you shouldn’t play with your kids, you definitely should, but you should also let them play alone or with other children their age. Taking your kid to a childcare center can help them grow accustomed to you not always being physically present, make new friends, and play with others.
Though you might think you are helping your child, it is more likely that you are hindering their growth and increasing their anxiety. Allowing your children to fall and to ask for help teaches them how to be humble and work hard. Instead of expecting help right away, they may be more inclined to work out the problem on their own before asking for help.
Permitting your child to become independent will teach them the necessary self-reliance and interpersonal skills they need to succeed later in life. So, take a step back, keep yourself from hovering, and don’t be a helicopter parent.