Parenting: 7 Signs You Might Be A Helicopter Parent

  • Reviewed By: Renee A. Alli, MD
Reviewed on 6/14/2020

You Fight Your Child's Battles

Help your child explore ways to solve their own problem instead of jumping in to fix it for them.

Your daughter comes home in tears after an argument with a friend. What do you do? If you answered, "Call the friend's mom to work out the problem," you need to take a step back.

Try this instead: Be a support system, but let them talk it out. Teach them how to calm their emotions, then help them explore ways they and their friend can work it out on their own.

You Do Their Schoolwork

Encourage your child while they are doing their homework instead of doing it for them.

Put on your preschooler's shoes. Solve a hard math equation for your teen … there are plenty of ways to swoop in to save your kids from feeling frustrated. But healthy levels of stress can actually boost their problem-solving skills.

Try this instead: Let your kids figure things out on their own. Praise their efforts when they stick with hard situations.

You Coach Their Coaches

Support your child in speaking to their own coach to help them build confidence.

If you shout advice from the stands during your kids' games or corner the coach to talk after every practice, it might be time to sideline yourself. Sports can teach your child how to deal with conflict, work toward a goal, be a leader, and cope with defeat. But it has to be their team, not yours.

Try this instead: If they ask for your help or you can see they have a problem, teach them how to talk to the coach themselves.

You Keep Your Kids on a Short Leash

Allow your child to be independent so they can build confidence.

You stick around for drop-off birthday parties. You drive your teen to friends' houses even when they're only a short walk away. You send daily check-in texts (plural) to your college student. Sound familiar? If so, it's time to cut the apron strings and let your kids build some self-confidence.

Try this instead: Create chances for them to be independent: Let them play in the yard while you stay inside or walk the dog solo.

You're a Maid in Your Own House

Let your child clean up after themselves to encourage independence.

Do you still make your first grader's bed, clean your teen's room, or do your college student's laundry? It's time to lighten your load. Make your kid pitch in around the house and you'll teach them responsibility for a lifetime.

Try this instead: Start with small tasks and build from there. Be clear about what you expect them to do, and praise a job well done.

You Play It Too Safe

Keep your child safe, but allow them to play and explore appropriately.

"Get down from up there!" "Don't ride so fast!" "Hold my hand down the slide!" Would you bubble wrap your kids if you could? Turns out you can protect them too much. When you don't let them take physical or mental risks, you can stunt their development.

Try this instead: Remember the goal is to keep them as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. Let them climb a tree, or fall and scrape their knee. It's good for their growth as a person.

You Can't Let Them Fail

It's okay to allow your child to make mistakes once in awhile.

Think of the last time you made a mistake. Chances are, you learned from it. Your kids need to do the same. Trial and error teaches them how to make their way in the world. If you take over a project or task to "do it right," they won't learn how to tackle problems in the future.

Try this instead: Let them make mistakes every once in a while. When they fail, encourage them to try again.

Parenting: 7 Signs You Might Be A Helicopter Parent

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