Helicopter parenting hurts kids, don't be too involved in their life

  • AFP
  • Updated: Jun 03, 2015 18:03 IST

Over-involvement in children's lives can be harmful, said a research team that had earlier that helicopter parenting backfires. The team concluded that extra love and support did not neutralize the negative effects of such an approach.

Helicopter parenting is defined as over-involvement in children's lives including making important decisions for them, solving their problems and intervening in their conflicts, say the researchers, who hail from Brigham Young University.

And the consequences of helicopter parenting on offspring could include low self-esteem and high-risk behavior like binge drinking, according to the researchers, whose first study indicated that children of helicopter parents are less engaged in school.

"From our past work, we thought there might be something positive about helicopter parenting under certain conditions, but we're just not finding it," said lead author Larry Nelson.

What's more, a lack of warmth combined with helicopter parenting was particularly detrimental to the well being of young adults, according to the study, published in the journal Emerging Adulthood.

In the study, 438 undergraduate students from four US universities self-reported on their parents' controlling behavior, their sense of self-worth and their risk behaviors and study habits.

Responses from the student participants, whose average age was 19, indicated an association between helicopter parenting with decreasing self-esteem and increasingly risky behavior, according to the study.

Loving parents were incapable of justifying their helicoptering, said the researchers, who said too much control was harmful in every circumstance.

"Overall, stepping in and doing for a child what the child developmentally should be doing for him or herself, is negative," said Nelson.

"Regardless of the form of control, it's harmful at this time period."

Nelson advised parents not to overcompensate by stepping back too far, for young people needed support from their parents - not control.

"Lack of control does not mean lack of involvement, warmth and support," he said.

In his team's first study on helicopter parenting, published in the Journal of Adolesence in 2012, they established that over-involvement in a child or young adult's life deprives them of the skills necessary for success in marriage, careers and adult social interactions.

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