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What are Helicopter Parents?

By Emma Davies


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Helicopter parents are the parents who pay a huge amount of attention to their kids but not exactly in the best way. Just like a helicopter, helicopter parenting means they hover very closely to their kids’ lives and are often overprotective and act on their kid’s behalf.

What are Helicopter Parents?

Of course, there’s no right way to parent and it’s super hard when there’s no guidebook telling you exactly what to do. But, helicopter parents can sometimes do more harm than good and it could have some pretty harmful effects on your kids’ future.

Helicopter Parent Meaning

The meaning of a helicopter parent is a parent who is always hovering and controlling every single thing their kid does. Yes, you could say that when your child is smaller like a toddler or a baby then this type of parenting is a good idea because it makes sure that they’re not getting into danger. As your kid grows up and starts to develop a lot more though, you may find that they don’t have some of the skills that all the other kids on the playground. These skills could be things like problem solving and making friends.

Being a helicopter mom or a helicopter dad can lead to being very overprotective, smothering and overbearing which isn’t always the best thing for your child. Your kid may struggle with emotion management which could cost them a lot of relationships and their ability to function in school and in the outside world. They may also struggle to make their own decisions meaning that helicopter parenting could actually have a more negative effect than good.

Examples Of Helicopter Parenting

Often it’s hard to recognize behavior in ourselves so by looking at examples of helicopter parenting, you may be able to tell if you are one of those helicopter moms or dads. Let’s take a look at this parenting style in practice.

  • Micromanaging schedules and activities – This is quite a common example of a helicopter parent. Yes, it’s great to have a schedule and to have everything on track but micromanaging every single thing your child does could have an adverse effect on your kid’s life. Some days let them make up their own mind on what they’d like to do rather than you choosing everything for them. It’s okay to let your child make a decision every once in a while and it does help them develop those skills for the future. It’s okay to let your child make a decision every once in a while and it does help them develop those skills for the future.
  • Worrying about what’s going to happen to your child – As a parent, you’re going to worry and of course, that’s completely okay. But, if it feels like you’re spending your every living hour worrying about something negative happening to your child then perhaps you should consider how you’re parenting. Nobody wants anything bad to happen to their kids but if it’s starting to get in the way of everyday life or your work life then it may be worth rethinking your parenting style.
  • Taking homework very serious – Homework can be a struggle and can be above all if your little one doesn’t understand. But, if you’re taking homework very seriously by checking through it three times after they’ve finished and perhaps even calling the teacher to clarify you’ve done it right. Another way you could be a helicopter parent in the world of homework is by staying up all night to finish your kid’s project when they’ve gone to bed already to make sure they don’t get into trouble.
  • Making a fuss over small things in school – This could be anything from kicking up a fuss because your child didn’t get an A to meeting with the principal because your child got less than 90% on a test. It’s true that we all want our kids to do well and we’ll always be slightly biased towards our kid’s work but kicking up a fuss every single time isn’t worth it and is a common example used to show helicopter parents what they’re doing.
  • Writing out applications and resumes for your kid – This is aimed for helicopter parents who have adult children. If you provide everything on a plate for your adult child and make sure they don’t have to do much to get what they want then there is a chance that you could be a helicopter parent and it may be time to slow down how much you’re providing for your kid. Of course, it’s normal to want to always be there for your kid and you will be but doing every single thing for them will most likely affect them in a negative way.

Signs of Helicopter Parents

If you find yourself ticking off a few signs on this list then there could be a big chance that you are a helicopter parent. You may find yourself dealing with a lot of anxiety and you may be over engaged with your kid. As we’ve mentioned, this can all lead to some negative effects on your child as they grow and face the real world outside your home. Not everyone helicopters and so there will be a reality check as their little bubble bursts.

  • Constantly hovering and not encouraging that healthy separation that you need
  • Making decisions for your child all the time
  • Always correcting your child and not letting them make any mistakes
  • If your child is going through conflict, you’ll step in rather than letting them figure it out themselves
  • Always being involved with your kid’s extracurriculars like volunteering as a football coach or helping out in class
  • Always doing things for your children rather than supporting them as they do it on their own
  • Making sure your child doesn’t experience any sadness, pain or failure
  • Your child doesn’t do anything at home in terms of chores and jobs around the house
  • You can’t let go of them and you may find taking them to school difficult when you have to say goodbye

Effects of Helicopter Parenting

What is a helicopter parent’s effect on their child? Well, these effects are negative ones on the whole and can affect a lot of your child’s social skills in the future. So, it’s really important to consider whether this is the best way to parent after reading our list of effects.

  • Possible drug/alcohol use – This isn’t one parents really want to think about but helicopter children are a lot more likely to turn to different substances in the future as they haven’t had the chance to deal with failure or stress. As a result, there is a greater chance that they’ll turn to drugs or alcohol for relief which could lead to addiction in the future or illegal and underage.
  • Fear of failure – This is almost inevitable. As a helicopter parent, you’ve made sure that your kid will almost never experience failure or pain in life which on paper sounds great. Because they’ve never experienced failure, children are scared of it and don’t know how to deal with it when it happens to them. This means they become very overwhelmed when they have to go through it alone and perhaps don’t even have the skills to figure it out. This will also lead to a lot more anxiety and stress in their life which nobody wants to see their kid go through.
  • More narcissism – A lot of kids with overprotective parents tend to become more narcissistic in the future as they have an immense sense of entitlement because everything’s always been handed on a plate to them. So, your child may develop to be a self centred individual when they have to deal with other people in social situations.
  • Bad coping skills – You may find that your kid’s coping skills aren’t very good in comparison to other kids in the playground or in their lives. Your kid wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn from their mistakes as they haven’t been able to make any because you’ve always been there to stop any mistakes from happening. You’ll also find that they may struggle to face the word “no” or any type of rejection because they’re so used to having everything handed to them and they’ve never faced any consequences or punishments when they’ve done something wrong.

Are There Any Positive Effects to Helicopter Parenting?

The simple answer is yes but there are few positive effects to this style of parenting. Some of these include:

  • Academic success and good career development – Most helicopter parents are very fixed on the idea of academic success and in the world of work so this is something your kid may benefit from. But you may find them lacking in social skills so despite your kid having good grades, they may not have many friends or colleagues they feel like they can turn to.
  • Better health – Because you’re so fixed on your kid constantly, you’ll most likely combat any diseases or health issues quite quickly so it’s all treated a lot quicker.

Helicopter Parenting

So, if you have a feeling that maybe you’re a helicopter parent then you’ve come to the right place. All parenting styles can lead to different effects on your child but you want to make sure that your kid can figure things out for themselves in the future and that you’re not controlling your kid’s life too much. If you are finding it hard then maybe try a therapist or giving your child some more chores, don’t take over their homework but support them instead. You’ve got this.

About Emma Davies

Emma Davies is a freelance writer that specializes parenting and animal topics. With over 20 years experience as a parent there are very few topics that faze her.

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