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How to Stop Being a Helicopter Parent

Learn how to stop being a helicopter parent in this Howcast video about child anxiety issues.


I'm going to talk to you about how to stop being a helicopter parent. First of all, the intentions are great. I think parents want to take charge, do everything possible for their kids, give them the best life, protect them from everything, but that can backfire. Often a helicopter parent is more about the parent than it is about the child.

So first you want to look at what's your motivation for being a helicopter parent. By that, we mean what's your motivation for needing to be in control and manage everything for your child. When you're doing that, you're actually doing a disservice to your child. You're not letting them figure out for themselves how to take charge, because they"re depending on you to do that.

Now when kids are very young of course you need to step in, you need to protect them, you need to take care of them, because they don't have the ability. They don't have the thought process- to do that. Gradually you need to learn how to do what we call "letting go." The concept that we hear all too much is about letting them fly. You need to be the base from which they can go. You need to be the place where they can learn how to help solve their own problems. When you're a helicopter parent, what can happen is the child feels like, "Someone else is going to solve all my problems. I don't need to take responsibility. It's not my fault. It's not my problem." That can be a dangerous, unproductive, and pretty unpleasant thing to be around later in life when kids grow up to have that kind of an attitude, that someone else is going to swoop in and fix everything for them. So what you want to do is help manage how they can take care of themselves. So help them problem solve, listen to them, talk through and plan ahead for things that they might encounter.

When they trip, or when they fall, whether it's when they're skinning their knee because they just fell off their bike, you want to make sure they get back on. You don't ride the bike for them, you teach them how to do it safely and try again. That's the same thing you want to do when they somehow stumble with a grade, or with some test, or some situation that they're in. Help them pick themselves up, talk about what happened, think about what they can do to change it for the next time. Let them know you're there to reassure, support, and help them with how they need to get through it. Ultimately the goal is to make them learn how to fly by themselves and know that you're always there as the home airport.

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