How to Stop Helicopter Parenting

If you track your child's every movement on the playground or oversee every aspect of his life 24/7, you might be considered a “helicopter parent.” And all that hovering isn't doing your child any favors. Mighty Mommy shares 5 tips on how to take the hover out of your parenting.

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #253

Tip #3: Prepare Your Kids for Natural Consequences

Kids need to face the consequences of their actions, no matter how small they may seem to you. 

For example, in my family of 8 kids, severalare very heavy sleepers. They're the ones who have difficulty waking up for school.  Years ago, with my oldest, I moved heaven and earth to get her up every morning because I didn’t want her to miss the bus.  While I thought I was doing the right thing by getting her to school on time, what I was actually doing was enabling her to rely on me as her alarm clock. - and therefore not teaching her to be responsible for her own actions.

Once I stopped acting as her alarm clock, it took almost a month of pouting and missed buses. But after a few days of having to stay after school for being late, she quickly learned that she had to be accountable for her actions.

Tip #4:  Don’t Do for Kids What They Can Do for Themselves

This hovering habit is one of the hardest to break.  Many times we take on extra duties for our kids because we have a soft spot in our hearts for simply wanting to make things easier for them. 

For example, we see that they’re tired after a long day of school so instead of allowing them to bring their own dirty clothes to the laundry room or feeding the family pet, we jump in and do it for them, thinking we’re doing them a favor. 

The problem is that this gets misinterpreted by the child. Once he sees that all he needs to do is act tired to get you to handle his chore, it will become a bad habit for both of you.  By allowing them to do their share, no matter how small it might be, you’re giving them regular opportunities to contribute and be proud of themselves.  See also: How to Get Your Kids to Help with Chores.

Tip #5: Letting Go Will Be Uncomfortable

Chances are, once you start recognizing the different areas where you hover too much and begin to pull back, you’re going to feel uncomfortable and unsure of yourself.  That’s actually a very good thing! 

The next time you come across a helicopter parenting moment - like letting your 12-year-old get a zero on his homework assignment because he left his workbook at home and you didn’t drive it down to school when he called in a panic - give yourself a verbal reminder to reinforce that you’re doing the right thing. Say, “He was watching TV and didn’t get himself organized the night before. So by letting him get that zero for forgetting his homework, I will help teach him to be more responsible next time."

Or you can even keep a written journal to chart your progress.  List the various over-parenting opportunities you've experienced and then list what you chose to do instead.  Before you know it you’ll have page upon page of examples that you’ve pulled back and chose to fly away instead of hover!

Your child probably won't thank you right away (no one likes getting a bad grade), but you will be doing him a huge favor in the long run. 

Have you had to step back and keep from smothering your child with too much parenting?  Share your thoughts in the comment section or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.  Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT

Let your children find things out for themselves now, and when they’re ready to leave the nest, you’ll have given them one of the best parenting gifts you possibly could—self confidence and independence!  Happy Parenting everyone!

Ask your mother cartoon and baby holding mother's finger image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!

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