What Is Helicopter Parenting?

what is helicopter parenting

Every parent has their own parenting style. These can deeply affect the parent-child relationship, with some having more positive effects compared to others. One of the many parenting styles out there is helicopter parenting. Many parents ask, what is helicopter parenting? This will be answered here.

In simple terms, ‘helicopter parenting’ is about the over-involvement and extra-protective attitudes of parents. Helicopter parents tend to hover, similar to a helicopter, and would often try to inject themselves into every little aspect of their child’s day-to-day living.

Certainly, this type of parenting has little to no advantage for the child. Scores on the helicopter parenting scale were linked to more severe signs of anxiety and depression. Parents who assist their school or adult children with things they are capable of handling on their own, such as calling a lecturer about subpar grades, setting up a class calendar, or regulating fitness habits, are practicing helicopter parenting. However, helicopter parenting can be experienced at any age.

What is the Helicopter Style of Parenting?

Helicopter parenting is described broadly as parents that pay too much emphasis to the actions and experiences of their children. A helicopter parent is an overly involved parent who spends a lot of time monitoring and, at times, even intervening in every area of their children’s lives. Because they constantly watch over their kids, helicopter parents are also known as hovering parents. At the first sign of disaster, they rush in to rescue their kids.

The term “helicopter parenting” originally denoted a situation in which the parent belonged to the Baby Boomers generation or was born between 1940 and 1960, and the children belonged to the Millennial generation or were born from the 1980s to 2000s.

Early in the new century, as the millennial generation started to become college students, this phrase came to prominence. College instructors and school administrators began seeing the parents’ invasive behavior and publicly criticizing it. Recently, this word has also been used to refer to parents of just about any generation who exhibit excessively watchful and defensive conduct that is out of character for the developmental phase of their child.

Why Do Parents Hover?

It’s normal to try to defend your kids from harm. It’s also natural to want your kids to succeed and develop into strong adults. But sometimes, either out of devotion or for other reasons, parents could be motivated to put too much strain and restraint on their kids.

There are various contributing factors toward this style of parenting, and it may also indicate several underlying issues with the parents; this understanding sheds more light on the psyche of helicopter parents. While there are several factors that may contribute to this, some of the reasons include the following:

Giving the Kids a Better Childhood

The desire to provide children with a happier childhood than what the parents had is one of the main justifications for helicopter parenting. If you experienced a difficult young age, perhaps because of a parent who was missing or unaccepting, you might wish to make adjustments when you have kids of your own. They could have wished their own parents had been more engaged in their academic or extracurricular interests.

Uncertainty Over the Future

There are times when the parents operate with the notion that every single incident in a child’s life is going to have a paramount influence on their future. Here, being a helicopter parent is actually seen a protective strategy.

The helicopter parent may see low grades as an imminent threat to their future or even getting cut from the school drama club could be seen as a sign of future failure for the child (by the helicopter parent). Of course, none of this seems healthy or rational. 

Struggling with Anxiety

Another common reason for becoming a helicopter parent is when the parent would do just about anything to not let the child get hurt or face any type of disappointment or emotional strain. The problem is that when a parent shields the child from all of these challenges, they are actually depriving them of a natural life course, and the child never gets to learn healthy coping mechanisms to be able to deal with these things. Eventually, these children often grow into adults who have several issues in dealing with real life challenges. 

Desire to Support

It might be hard for some parents to encourage independence in their children because they want to feel useful. Some parents are also particularly concerned about their kids suffering psychological or physical harm.

As a result, they might feel compelled to watch their kids carefully. Some parents think it’s better to avoid negative consequences and failure altogether than to actually go through them and be disappointed.

The Three Signs of Helicopter Parenting

If you notice any of the following three signs in your parenting style, you might be a helicopter parent:

You micromanage your child’s life

Among the commonly found indicators of this type of parenting is trying to exercise extra control over the life of your child and maintaining this control on every little segment of their life.

In helicopter parenting, parents don’t even allow the child to make any decisions and don’t value their opinions either. Although young children certainly need their parents’ oversight, supervision, and guidance to understand the ways of the world, helicopter parents are doing so in a manner that is not acceptable for their child’s stage of development.

You are constantly monitoring your child

If you notice that you constantly have an eye out for what is happening in your child’s life, then you are helicopter parenting. This could be done with good intentions, but overly involved parents can have negative effects on a child’s independence.

You overschedule

In an attempt to provide their children a strategic advantage in everything from school to athletics to music, helicopter parents often overschedule them. They might even make an effort to control their child’s friends and social position, with an intention of providing everything that’s just perfect to their child for optimal development. 

Effects of Helicopter Parenting

Even though some parents believe that helicopter parenting is beneficial, it can misfire and lead to a child becoming insecure or having low self-esteem. This is because a child who has never had to solve a problem on their own may begin to mistrust their own ability as they get older. They can think their parents don’t support them in handling their own choices, and they could start to doubt their own capacity for self-management.

A child can gain a lot from involved parenting, including possibilities for growth, increased self-confidence, and sentiments of affection and acceptance. Unfortunately, the issue is that it is difficult to remember all the things children learn when we aren’t supervising each step once parenting is guided by overwhelming fear and judgments centered on possible negative outcomes. Children learn new skills from setbacks and challenges, but more significantly, they learn that they are capable of handling defeat and difficulties.

Pros and Cons of Helicopter Parenting

Pros and Cons of Helicopter Parenting

As with any type of parenting, helicopter parenting also comes with its share of pros and cons, and we are going to discuss some of the main factors below. 


Long established by educators, parental involvement in their children’s school activities and school projects is beneficial. Helicopter parenting has some advantages, one of which is appropriate parental participation. It is essential to a student’s academic performance, academic motivation, cognitive growth, and self-development.

Usually, parental involvement creates more positive educational attitudes and better homework habits in children, lowers absenteeism and dropout rates, and increases academic progress. Moreover, parental involvement is seen to have benefits for student growth in areas like abstaining from alcohol use, improvement in decision-making abilities, great practical skills, enhanced physical and psychological health, and a healthy career development.

Similarly, helicopter parents are frequently exceedingly attentive to their children’s behavior and academic performance. In addition, they will encourage their child in whatever way they can if they are having academic difficulties or are getting poor grades. The same holds for diseases, bullying problems, emotional problems, or mental health issues.

Helicopter parents are frequently active parents who are among the first to participate in school events or join the PTA at their children’s schools. Because of this, the time, effort, and resources that people invest in making a campus, a classroom, or a unit the strongest they can be are beneficial to schools, instructors, and coaching staff. 

In addition, having strong parental support is quite beneficial, especially in terms of finances and emotional counseling. For instance, usually when compared to individuals who don’t have helicopter parents, grown children of such parents report higher adaptive functioning and life happiness.

Parents and kids can become closer when parents practice helicopter parenting. Children may be appreciative of this continuous urging to succeed if they do not really feel that it restricts them. Children of helicopter parents may have a strong bond with them and feel loved. They might also believe that they have a place they can turn to for assistance in solving any issues.


All children need to learn how to solve problems. Children need to learn how to confront their problems and proactively resolve them on their own, whether they are 5-year-olds who need to understand how to pronounce words or 25-year-olds after a botched job interview. However, hovering parents frequently step in as soon as something goes wrong, preventing kids from developing important problem-solving abilities.

It has been discovered that children with parents who participate in their schooling at developmentally inappropriate stages have much worse mental well-being. They are more susceptible to substance misuse, anxiety, and depression.

Overprotective parents often go above and above for their children to the point where the children become reliant on them. For instance, it gets hard for the child to learn to take up responsibility of getting up themselves if their parents are waking them up even when they’re 19 years old. Children should be taught how to survive and exist without their parents.

Young people and adolescents are particularly hard hit. Because they have been protected from challenging real-life situations since they were little children, they struggle with autonomy and often develop a more anxious behavioral pattern. They have a crippling fear of failing, low self-esteem, and inadequate coping mechanisms for dealing with challenges in daily life.

Instead of encouraging their kids to speak for themselves, helicopter parents typically speak up for them. Children should be able to clarify things for themselves, discuss issues, and speak openly if they require something. These youngsters won’t have a parent around to assist them in coping with a difficult task or boss at school or in the workplace.

Children may believe they could never accomplish anything right if their parents are constantly monitoring everything that they do. If helicopter parenting and micro-management continue throughout their teenage years and early twenties, this could result in issues with self-esteem as they become older. Problems with self-esteem, problem-solving, managing, decision-making, human engagement, accountability, and social adjustment can all be attributed to helicopter parenting.

Children must deal with some anxiety-provoking repercussions in life. After all, when parents don’t step in to help, kids will face the repercussions of their failures. However, the majority of helicopter parents closely monitor their kids’ behavior to shield them from any unfavorable outcomes.

Although helicopter parenting is frequently practiced out of love, this parenting approach may harm the bond between parents and children. Your child is unlikely to be comfortable about your relationship if they believe you are continually pestering them to finish their homework, making important decisions for them, or watching over everything they do. Instead, doing so might alienate your child and make them wonder if you believe in their skills and judgment.

How to Encourage Autonomy?

It’s vital to consider if you should step back a little if you tend to hover over your children to give them room to develop, pick up new abilities, and bounce back from setbacks independently. Although not all aspects of helicopter parenting are harmful, it can have adverse effects on children since it may prevent them from becoming autonomous. Here are a few tips you can use to help your kids develop a healthy level of autonomy in their day to day life.

Allow Your Kids to Fail

Nobody enjoys failing, however, it is definitely a learning opportunity. In life, failure is a requirement for healthy development because children who face failure are the ones who learn to deal with it and develop healthy ways to excel in life. So, let your child be free to experience ‘failure’ because it will not hinder their lifecourse, as a matter of fact your child will learn and grow better. 

Boost Communications

Kids are more inclined to inform you what they need if you teach them from an early age that being honest with you is acceptable. This would take off the weight of unnecessary and uncalled for responsibilities from your shoulders as well. So, don’t hesitate in giving your child the encouragement to share their feelings and opinions on any matter. 

Assign them tasks

For many households, developing life skills that will benefit children as adults is an integral part of childhood. These skills may not be learned if you always take care of your children, which might make independence challenging. Your children should be given chores from an early age. Simple examples include making their bed each morning and cleaning the dishes after meals.

Helicopter Parents Are Not Inherently Bad

Any parenting approach should be evaluated in light of how it will impact your child both currently and in the long term. Of course, it is quite natural to do a little more than is required of your as a parent because the protective instinct is also a natural part parenting.

The issue arises when helicopter parenting becomes the norm and prevents healthy development. To strive to be a better parent does not constitute a sin. Nevertheless, helicopter parents may become overly involved, harming their children’s development out of a desire to raise successful kids or out of a persistent need to compare themselves to other parents.

Stephanie Edenburgh

I'm Steph, a mom to 3 beautiful children and lover all things having to do with my family and being a mom. I've learned a lot raising my own children and working in education and healthcare roles throughout my career. Living in beautiful Southern California I enjoy documenting and writing about all of the hard work us mom's do on a daily basis.

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