Home LearningHelicopter Parenting, Is it your Style?

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The beauty of parenting is that there are multiple styles to it with different approaches to each scenario. Some parents have been lucky to find the magic called balance, where some are too strict or too carefree. However, the separation line between different styles being thin and blurry, it’s advisable to introspect on our parenting...

The beauty of parenting is that there are multiple styles to it with different approaches to each scenario. Some parents have been lucky to find the magic called balance, where some are too strict or too carefree. However, the separation line between different styles being thin and blurry, it’s advisable to introspect on our parenting style to understand its effects on our children. So, though there are many parenting styles, today, we will have an insight on ourselves to evaluate if we fall into ‘Helicopter-Parenting.’

 Ready!!

Before I define the term, let me tell you the tale of a parent named Anna, who did the parenting on a helicopter.

Disclaimer: If Anna sounds like you(except you may not own a helicopter!), this read is definitely for you. 

‘Anna is a happy parent who cares for her daughter, Cathy, a LOT. She always hovers around Cathy on her helicopter to make sure Cathy has a smooth life without any trouble. “This world is a chaotic place, and I want to save my child from any problematic situation,” says Anna as a parenting mantra. Whenever in the playground, Anna makes sure that she follows Cathy two feet behind to catch her if she falls or slips. She even controls whom Cathy should play with or befriend. Anna has it all figured out for Cathy; the toys, the games and whatnot. No questions asked Anna doesn’t land or park her helicopter even in a social gathering, deciding/controlling each move of Cathy. Anna’s helicopter parenting was so loud and omnipresent that she rescued Cathy from any possible mistakes/problems in her life. As a result, Cathy grew up safe and sound, never having to use her intellectual abilities to solve any issues; Anna had the red carpet laid out for Cathy to walk on. But, one day, Cathy had to step out into the ‘real world’.

Wow. It sounds like Anna is happy that she has a certainty about her child’s life. Everything is in her control. BUT, what happened to Cathy, who finally had to face the world alone without the parent hovering around? 

Helicopter Parenting is an (over)protective and directive style where the parent is not just involved but is the decision-maker in a child’s life. This kind of parenting exerts more control than developmentally appropriate, making it difficult for the child to learn independently. A helicopter parent aims at protecting the mental and physical well-being of a child. But, what they fail to notice is that it causes cognitive, emotional, and physical setbacks in a child’s development, leading to less resilience, low self-efficacy, and even depression.

Helicopter Parenting looks like a total disaster, isn’t it? So this raises the question, how to strike that magical balance with developmentally appropriate control. Let me introduce a strategy where this magic happens, named Light House Parenting.  Dr Ginsburg, a leading paediatrician, coined this term in his book Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust. He explains the strategy as:

“We should be like lighthouses for our children. Stable beacons of light on the shoreline from which they can measure themselves against. Role models. We should look down at the rocks and make sure they do not crash against them. We should look into the water and prepare them to ride the waves, and we should trust in their capacity to learn to do so.”

Now that sounds like preparing them is protection, not mowing and clearing the path for them.

 

So here are Four Lighthouse Parenting strategies that can help you build self-sufficient children: 

  • Let them make mistakes and find their way.

Mistakes are inevitable, be it adults or children. But, as parents, are we supposed to hover around and rescue our children from any possible mistake? Or guide them to cope with their mistake and learn from it? Because there is a limit for how long a parent can hover around a child, I would say the smart way is to guide them and prepare them. Even when your child asks for help, see if they can try to do it independently and step in when you see they absolutely cannot. Same when your child seeks an answer. Instead of giving them your sea of wisdom right away, know how you can make them think around the questions and find their way to the solution. This way, you can grow a resilient child with problem-solving skills.

  • Make them face Challenges.

Children often take too much personal credit for their failures or success. Therefore, when they succeed in overcoming a challenge, they build self-esteem and self-efficacy, which plays a massive role in confidence. And, if the challenge is too overwhelming, it will allow you to guide them to be resilient. Making them participate in chores can be the start of it.

  • Make them feel in control.

“ He/She is too young to decide for themselves”. The truth is, children like to be in control of their life just as adults.  Therefore, make sure to give your child a reasonable amount of autonomy to decide what clothes to wear, food to eat, games to play, and let them feel like they have choices. Giving them options will also help to control their tantrums. After all, the success of parenting is not in bringing up obedient children but children who can think for themselves.

  • Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

Yes, I said it thrice. I would have blown the emergency alarm, too, if possible, because communication is crucial. It’s the key to building self-esteem and sensitivity in children. But, remember, Communication is a two-way process that involves talking as well as active listening. So openly communicate with your child rather than considering communication as unidirectional, where you tell them about what you feel and what you think they should do.

We all live in a volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous world. The best way to prepare our children for this world is to let them find their path to lead their journey while you stand high as a lighthouse to guide them through.

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