Updated: Jun 5, 2019
Are you a Helicopter Parent?
It’s a scary world out there, we all know that. It’s certainly not like the days that we grew up in, when you could meet a friend at the corner and go to the park by yourself, coming home later with scraped knees and tall tales.
However, does this lead us into over-protecting our children, and not allowing them to develop key life skills such as resilience and risk taking? Obviously, we do not wish any harm to come to our children, but have we become ‘helicopter’ parents, not allowing our children to learn from their mistakes? With the advent of social media and networking, it’s never been easier to read the horror stories or find new things that could impact your child, that you then start to worry about.
Being a helicopter parent may seem like the natural response to your child taking on different equipment in the playground or wanting to play at a new friend’s house. But, if we don’t allow our children to have the freedom to try out new experiences and activities, they may not develop independence or self-worth. If a child doesn’t feel that they can climb a high slide without mummy or daddy there to help them, soon they will stop trying anything scary, which is a key aspect of child development. They may also pick up on your fears and anxieties.
Here are some helpful suggestions for helping your child (and you):
- Allow your child to make mistakes or fail at an activity or task. To start off with,
this can be in a safe environment that you are in control of. Then build up to more adventurous experiences, such as a new playground or more advanced equipment to climb on. Your child needs to understand that it’s OK for them to fall off, or fall over, and that you will be there to pick them up, but the most important part is that they tried, by themselves.
- Encourage your child to walk or go on a scooter or bike alongside you on the pavement, rather than using a pushchair. This is a great opportunity to talk about road safety, how to cross a road or use lights and crossings. If they like to run ahead, you can allow them some freedom by giving them an object to run to and wait for you at (e.g. you can run to the post box).
- Try not to dictate or control too much when it comes to playtime - how a game is played, or a picture is coloured in for example. However much you have to sit on your hands, this is a great time for your child to be thinking and making decisions for themselves.
- Reduce the risks of items around the home, so that you can resist the urge to helicopter all of the time. Things such as moving precious items out of reach and setting privacy controls on tablets and phones will all help you to feel more relaxed. It’s also a good idea to teach children early on about things like hot drinks, the cooker and knives and scissors.
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