All parents, and especially first-time parents, are adamantly concerned with the safety and wellbeing of their children. With information on the latest diseases and injuries so readily available in today’s technological age, it is easy to get caught up trying to protect your children from every conceivable threat.
Parents often believe that protecting their child should be their number one priority and that it is in the child’s best interest for them to be shielded from danger and difficult situations at all costs. In reality, having an over-protective or “helicopter parent” can actually inhibit a child’s development and lead to more issues than benefits down the road.
An obvious problem associated with being a helicopter parent is that your child will become dependent on you when dealing with situations that trouble them or make them uncomfortable. Part of growing up is learning to take care of yourself, but when mom or dad is always available when you encounter adversity, your independence can lag behind later in life when it really matters.
It may not be easy to watch your child struggle with something, but weighing the benefits from a lesson they will learn against the possible harmful results is a valuable way to determine if your intervention in a situation is truly needed.
Surely you don’t want your child to experience third-degree burns for them to learn not to touch boiling pots on the stove, but there are some lessons that are best learned the hard way. If your child puts up a fight every time you try and put sunscreen on them in the summer, letting them experience the pain of a sunburn will likely have them applying their own sun block before their next trip to the beach.
Aside from protecting your children from serious and life-threatening injuries, you should want them to gain a grasp on the common hazards they will encounter. In addition to breeding dependence, over-protective parenting can lead to a child that acts recklessly and is unaware of everyday dangers. If you’re there to catch them every time they fall, your child will never learn that falling down isn’t fun and that they should take steps to prevent it on their own. Building an instinct for the dangers around you is a vital part of growing up and understanding the world, but if you’re never allowed to get bruised or scraped you won’t learn for yourself what things should be avoided.
Although protecting your child may seem like your number one job as parent, the day will come when this won’t be possible anymore. Acting as your son or daughter’s personal iron dome and life coach from the day they are born can affect your relationship with them as a parent. Helicopter parenting in the form of nagging to make sure they get things done or do everything exactly how you want them to can be frustrating and lead to your child pushing back.
Not only is it important to give your child space to fall and scrape their knees, but it’s even more important to give them the ability to fail and quit things on their own. Forcing your child to take part in something or do something a certain way can lead to them having animosity towards you and the activity they might have otherwise enjoyed.
Whether it’s over-protection from physical dangers or emotional strains, helicopter parenting will almost always result in greater long-term harm than good. Letting your child fall and fail may not be easy for you, but it will certainly benefit their development and your relationship with them as a parent.