‘Helicopter parenting’ — which describes an over controlling behaviour of parents — can negatively affect children’s ability to manage their emotions and deal with the challenging demands of growing up, a study has found.
Children need space to learn and grow on their own, without parents hovering over them, researchers said in a study published in the journal Developmental Psychology. “Our research showed that children with helicopter parents may be less able to deal with the challenging demands of growing up,” said Nicole B Perry from the University of Minnesota in the US.
Children rely on caregivers for guidance. They need parents who are sensitive to their needs, recognise when they are capable of managing a situation and will guide them when emotional situations become too challenging.
Managing emotions and behaviour are fundamental skills that all children need to learn and over controlling parenting can limits those opportunities, said Perry. The researchers followed 422 children over the course of eight years as part of a study of social and emotional development.
Data was collected from observations of parent-child interactions, teacher-reported responses and self-reports from the 10-year-olds. During the observations, the research team asked the parents and children to play as they would at home. “Helicopter parenting behaviour we saw included parents constantly guiding their child by telling him or her what to play with, how to play with a toy, how to clean up after playtime and being too strict or demanding,” said Perry.
“The kids reacted in a variety of ways. Some became defiant, others were apathetic and some showed frustration,” she said. Parents can help their children learn to control their emotions and behaviour by talking with them about how to understand their feelings and by explaining what behaviours may result from feeling certain emotions, as well as the consequences of different responses. Then parents can help their children identify positive coping strategies, like deep breathing, listening to music, colouring or retreating to a quiet space.
Children need space to learn and grow on their own. Research shows children with helicopter parents may be less capable of dealing with demands of growing up.