Parenting: Are You A Helicopter Parent?

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Helicopter Parenting: Does Hovering Help?

BY AMANDA HALE

Does hovering help or hinder?

Does hovering help or hinder?

It can be scary and difficult to let your kids roam free in the big wide world. There are so many things that could go wrong and so many ways they could get hurt. It’s a natural parenting instinct to want to protect your child from all the potential harms and threats the world has to offer.

But does hovering help or hinder?

The first study to define helicopter parenting and its long-term effects found that hovered-over children grow up to be dependent, neurotic and less open than children who are allowed more freedom. This effect has also been seen in older children – a study at the Keene State College in New Hampshire in the US found that college-aged students with overprotective parents were less open to new ideas and actions, and more vulnerable, anxious and self-conscious.

In short. Hovering doesn’t help.

When you’re trying to choose your hover height, keep this in mind.

  • One day, your kids will need to manage without you
  • Dealing with problems independently helps kids to feel confident
  • When you hover, you inadvertently tell your kids that you don’t think they can cope
  • Adversity is necessary for resilience – the toughest trees grow in the windiest of conditions
  • By hovering, you might be limiting your child’s learning opportunities


Next time you have the urge to jump in to help your child, try waiting a couple of days and see if they manage to cope by themselves. If they still need your help, approach problem-solving in a way that develops your child’s skills, confidence and resilience.

Amanda Hale is a registered psychologist and a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) Candidate at the Australian National University. She enjoys working with children, adolescents and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, eating disorders, weight management and interpersonal and adjustment difficulties.