Helicopter Parenting: When to Back Off

helicopter parentingThe motherly instinct is no joke. When your baby is born it may feel like you’ve developed a sixth sense. You become more aware of dangers and even get those little impressions that something isn’t right, only to find your little one caught in their blanket, choking on a toy or on the brink or pulling a shelf over.

Once I woke up with this funky feeling and went to check on my daughter. She’d managed to MacGyver our front door lock and escape outside into our apartment complex. Yikes.

This motherly instinct is a gift and learning how to hone those skills takes time. But, there is a point when that protective instinct may go a bit too far. It’s called helicopter parenting or hovering over your child like their own personal protective shield.

Before you start wrapping your little one in bubble wrap and protective gear, here are a few times it may be best to take a step back and let your child do their own thing:

Intervening in fights:

When they are little, before age 4, you should step in and help them settle their disagreement. Show them how to share, how to ask nicely etc. But as they get older they need to learn how to handle issues on their own. Your child may come in the house every five minutes complaining that their friend is “being mean.” While it’s tempting to jump in and make the other kid play nice, you should let your little one figure out how to solve the problem on their own.

It may take some careful guidance at first, but unless there is bullying or physical altercations, it’s often best to let kids resolve the dispute on their own.

At sporting events:

You’ve probably seen the horror stories of crazy sports parents going bonkers on the coach or starting fights with the other teams or the referee. Your child isn’t going to learn anything good from you insisting their coach play them most of the game and watching you throw a hissy fit when they get pulled out.

Save your coach complaints for when you truly feel they are being unfair (they haven’t let your child play the entire game), and try to talk to the coach quietly about the issue. If a referee makes a bad call against your child, let it ride. Especially when kids are young. Letting your child deal with disappointment and bad calls is better for them in the long-term.

When they fall down:

This sounds terrible, and maybe it is a little bit, but jumping up every time your little one trips or stumbles will only scare them. By all means, if your little one takes a bad stumble or it looks like they are about to fall off the playground, snag them. But, gasping at every little stumble or trip is only going to give you heart palpitations. Take a step back and let them explore.

You can be a good mom and let your child make their own choices. By taking a few steps back you are teaching your child to be independent. You can still be at the ready so they know you are there when they really need you.

Do you or someone you know practice helicopter parenting?


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