Surely, a lot has changed from the time we were kids and the present age. Parents nowadays feel a need to constantly keep tabs on their children and try to make sure they have the most comfortable life possible.
However, this can become problematic if us, parents, constantly remove hurdles from our child’s path, and ensure they never have to experience disappointment, discomfort, or pain. This is called helicopter parenting.
At the heart of it, every helicopter parent is an anxious parent, always worrying over their kids’ happiness, safety, and their ability to navigate in the world. We become hypervigilant for any signs of potential trouble and cut it off at the bud.
None of us wants to “screw up” as parents, and eventually “screw up” our kids – but interestingly, the surest way to do just that is to constantly worry about screwing them up!
Ironic, but true. Your anxiety as a parent will get passed down to your children as they progress to adulthood. It’s a cycle that is difficult to break free from, but not entirely impossible.
Here are 6 steps you can take to avoid becoming a helicopter parent:
1. Don’t hover over your child
Hovering over your kid means doing things for them that they can do by themselves otherwise. Don’t hold them back from “risks” they would normally take at their age (unless they are life-threatening, of course.)
Allow them to think and make decisions for themselves for things like what to wear, what to play with, or even answer their own questions. Allow them to feel discomfort or struggle, so they learn how to deal with them on their own terms. Guide them, but don’t do it for them.
2. Don’t let your child carry your worries
Signs that you may be putting your worries on your child’s back is when you constantly interrogate them asking questions like, “That looks difficult, are you sure you can handle that?” or “Do you have playmates at school? Who?”
Stop looking for evidence to confirm your fears and worries for your child. If anything, this will only cause them to clam up and adopt the same negative thoughts you have about their future.
3. Don’t let your life revolve around your child
We love our children to bits, but be careful to not let them become the center of your universe. They are not obliged to meet all your emotional needs.
If you’re there at every beck-and-call and doing things for them that they can do by themselves, they’ll have a hard time functioning on their own in the world. Also, never allow his achievements to determine your validation and worth as a parent.
4. Don’t label your child
Negative (or positive) labels do not benefit a child because these can create self-fulfilling prophecies, or force them into believing this is the box they must fit into, even if it isn’t the right one. Don’t remind them that they are “the funny one,” or “the pretty one,” or “the smart one,” or “the one who will turn out just like Dad.” Avoid saying, “You always…” or “You never…”
Let go of the notion that you can decide who your child is now or who they will become because nobody knows that yet, not even your kids. Allow yourself and them to explore all possibilities.
5. Don’t take your differences personally
If you find out your child thinks differently than you, don’t argue with them over it, instead, encourage them to tell you more. Don’t shut down their attempts to communicate a different opinion or idea from what you have, nor insist on having the last word. And ultimately, avoid taking it personally if they make decisions or choose a path in life different from the one you thought they would take.
6. Don’t focus on your child to distract yourself from dealing with your own struggles
Avoid getting too involved in your child’s life that you start neglecting your own. Allow them to experience the consequences of their actions, and let go of the worries that bog you down as a parent. The truth is, we really cannot control everything our kids do, how they respond, or how they behave.
Find their strengths and their weaknesses and guide them through it. You can avoid becoming a helicopter parent if you purposefully get to know your kids for who they really are, and building a strong relationship with them.
Read the full article by Empowering Parents here.