You Risk Harming Your Kids’ Self Control By Being A Helicopter Parent

The safety and success of a child would make most parents uneasy. This leads some of them to develop a habit of tracking all aspects of their child’s development. Although a strong connection to parents helps a child feel loved and supported, being an overprotective parent can prove harmful to a child.


A “helicopter” parent is one who hovers over their child. Stories of parents controlling all that their kids do in their free time and even going to the extent of filling out job applications for them are becoming prevalent. This behavior may end up hampering a child’s ability to make their own decisions.

Research published in Development Psychology sought to examine the effects of “helicopter” parenting. If there are two children and the parents are over-controlling then the children will experience self-control difficulties later on in life. It may also affect their ability to regulate their emotions. For example, they may find it hard to calm themselves down.

Dangers of Helicopter Parenting

The research was conducted on 422 children who were two years old. They followed up with the children until they got to the ages of 5 and 10. They examined both genders but did not note the presence of either transgender children or gender nonbinary children.

The research was conducted on the parents and their children in a laboratory setting. They were given toys and instructed to play as they would typically do at home. The parents were said to be controlling if they;

  • Gave many or excessively strict commands.
  • When they physically intervened to create a structured environment.
  • Gave instructions to the children on how they should play or told them which toys to use.

The researchers went ahead and delved into the children’s education by gathering data from teacher reports from when the children were aged 5 and 10. The children also gave self-reports when they were 10.

Children with “helicopter” parents differed from those with less controlling parents in the following ways;

  • They found it hard to control their emotions and had impulse control difficulties at age 5.
  • At age 10, they reported more social and emotional problems
  • According to their teachers, they displayed bad social skills and were less productive academically at age 10.

The studies concluded that overprotective parents hinder their children’s ability to learn necessary life skills. The parents failed to understand that stopping a child from making a mistake impedes the child’s ability to learn how to control their impulses. The children whose problems are solved for them may fail to learn how to pacify themselves. These skills, or lack of them, may have profound effects on the children well being.

That is where therapy comes in. Therapy provides parents with skills and knowledge on how to avoid being overprotective while still looking out for your children well being.


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