11 signs of identifying helicopter parents. Are you one?
Are you hovering over your child all the time? Welcome to the club of helicopter parents
For Maansi Kumar (name changed), her day begins with packing tiffin box for her eight-year-old son and progresses to checking the activities that he indulges in after returning from school. “I need to know how my son spends time after school and what he enjoys the most. I just need to know everything,” says Kumar, a housewife from Bangalore.
A similar story reverberates in the Sharma household. Kanta Sharma (name changed) is an inquisitive mother. She never leaves her seven-year-old daughter alone. “I am with her in everything she does,” claims the Delhi-based content writer, who has given up her full-time job just to ensure she is ‘available for her daughter’ all the time.
And no, it is not just the mothers. Rahul Patel, a software engineer in Pune, takes frequent breaks from work to be with his twin daughters, following their activity schedule. “It is important that my daughters get pally with children who come from well-educated families,” says Patel.
Kumar, Sharma and Patel are not alone. Increasingly, parents from urban India are keeping an extremely close watch on their children’s activities. They are hovering around their children and controlling every aspect of their lives. In other words, they are becoming helicopter parents.
“Many helicopter parents start off with good intentions,” says Dr Sharmistha Mukherjee, consultant clinical psychologist, The Calcutta Medical Research Institute, Kolkata, adding, “Eventually, they end up doing more harm than good.” Such micro-managers, as we may also call them, never let their child fall at any point. For them, other kids are no more than just germ carriers.
“Helicopter parenting describes an over-involved style of parenting. They tend to have a lot of dos and don’ts because of which the child comes under constant pressure,” says Dr Puneet Dwevedi, head, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare, Delhi.
How to identify helicopter parents
Helicopter parents are easily distinguishable.“They are both over-protective and over-involved in their child’s life,” says Dr Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare, Delhi.
You can see them outside their child’s school, waiting for them to finish. You can see them writing long emails and notes to the teachers, questioning them about their child’s progress. And you also don’t miss them watching their child sleep in peace.
There are a few parents who think their child is the most vulnerable in the class. “From seating arrangement to whose food to share and whom to talk to, they want to monitor and control everything,” says Kritika Kapoor, a Delhi-based clinical psychologist.
So, if you find yourself ticking all the points below, it should ring alarm bells in your ears:
- Do you dissuade your child from talking to others kids?
- Do you dictate to him regularly?
- Do you make him participate in activities that you enjoyed during your childhood?
- Do you take decisions for your child all the time? This could be as small as what to eat and wear.
- Do you regularly complete his homework?
- Do you speak for your child in situations when you know he won’t be able to speak up for himself?
- Do you get angry when a relative or a friend steps in to correct the behaviour of your child?
- Do you write long emails or notes to his teachers every week, asking for timely feedback on the performance of your child?
- Do you keep a tab on the progress and performance of his friends at school?
- Are you spending sleepless nights worrying about your child?
Continue reading know how helicopter parents can harm their children
How can helicopter parents harm their children
Doctors and experts are increasingly showing concern over this new trend in parenting. Helicopter parents run the risk of “over-programming their children”. They can communicate to the child that they are neither competent, nor responsible enough to cope with their day-to-day life. “This may make the child rebellious. Therefore, a better approach would be to foster an open, honest and non-judgmental communication channel, so that he feels comfortable enough to share his concerns with you,” says Dr Parikh.
“As a parent, it is natural and understandable for you to have anxieties and fears related to your child. However, it is a matter of concern when these anxieties are excessive and are transferred on to the child. Giving space to children and being a facilitator of growth is the right approach,” adds Dr Dwevedi.
According to Dr Deepak Sikriwal, consultant, paediatrics, Fortis La Femme, Delhi, over-protectiveness may lead to:
- Lack of confidence Being overprotective all the time sends a message that your child can’t handle life’s challenges. This may lead to your child failing to take decisions independently.
- Lack of self-esteem Because of lack of confidence and the belief in their incapability to tackle life’s problems, a child’s self-esteem may deteriorate. The child may have increased chances of social, emotional and psychological retardation.
- Increased risk of psychological problems Psychiatric disorders such as depression, dependency, shyness, neurotic disorders, panic attacks and eating disorders can set in.
- Wrong concept of risk Many children become averse to taking risks and also fail to take a stand even when it is for their betterment. They make themselves comfortable in their small space.
- Misunderstanding Older children may take over protectiveness as having lack of trust and turn out to be more rebellious and stubborn.
Do helicopter parents need help?
Experts say that this trend might be the outcome of abandoned dreams that the parents might be living in. “Most of these parents suffer from low self-worth and they want to change this by excelling as parents. Further, they wish that their child should be exceptional so that it can boost their self-confidence,” says Kapoor.
These increasing incidents of helicopter parenting may also be attributed to the number of single-child households. “In such households, each child grows up to be the centre of all attention and gradually becomes a ‘project’ into which the parents go on ‘ investing’ relentlessly, trying to then manipulate the project and maximise ‘returns’,” adds Dr Mukherjee.
According to experts, such parents need help. It is important for them to understand their own minds and become self-aware. With the trend of helicopter parenting hitting newer households every day, it is important that parents become aware of the long-term effects that their micromanagement can have over their kids.
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