Helicopter Parenting: Impact on Kids’ Independence and Self-Esteem

Helicopter Parenting: Impact on Kids’ Independence and Self-Esteem


The term “helicopter parenting” has recently emerged as one of the popular “labels” for a particular style of child-rearing. It is based on constantly hovering over a child’s activities as well as monitoring his or her decisions. While stemming from care and protection for the child, helicopter parenting has elicited controversies. These controversies focus on its impact on the child’s psychological development and growth, particularly regarding self-reliance. This article aims to understand it better and its psychological influence on children.

Understanding Helicopter Parenting

A helicopter parent closely monitors their child’s activities, including school work, aiming to shield them from pain and ensure their expected success. They are characterized by coming up with rules for their children as well as getting overly involved in almost every aspect of their children’s lives. 

This focus can cause harm to a child in terms of their psychological well-being, views of self-worth, learning how to manage stress and many other areas.  Helicopter parents may intervene in various aspects of their child’s life, such as influencing which teacher or coach their child interacts with, choosing their friends and extracurricular activities, or excessively assisting with homework and school assignments, even at the primary level of education.

Read More: “Spare the Rod, Empower the Child”

Psychological Effect on Independence and Self-esteem

Lack of self-reliance is among the major implications that result from helicopter parenting. This means that when parents interfere so much, children are unable to do things on their own, and thus the latter cannot learn from their mistakes or be firm. Consequently, self-confidence is most likely to be low, which implies that such individuals are likely to seek their parents’ input when making decisions in their adult ages.

Read More: 11 Effective Methods to Teach Children Good Habits

It confines her/his ability to negotiate real-life situations on her/ his own due to the dependence that is developed. Helicopter parenting also hurts children’s self-esteem. Self-esteem is the individual’s evaluation of and feelings about oneself. When children are constantly supervised and watched and are corrected frequently, they get the signal that they cannot manage tasks on their own thus endless supervision demeans children.

However, when children do not have the chance to make any decisions or fail in something they attempt, they might develop the impression that they cannot succeed unless assisted by or informed by other people and hence become helpless.

Factors influencing Helicopter Parenting

Societal factors that have deeply influenced Helicopter parenting include parental stress concerning their child’s success or the societal drumbeat of fear of failure. Social comparison, facilitated by social media, makes parents go overboard measuring up their children to meet up to par with those from other families. Personality factors, including the parenting one received as a child, perfectionism, and attachment dynamics between parents and children, contribute to the development of helicopter parenting tendencies.

Read More: Attachment Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Due to underlying parental influences, some parents strive to recreate an ideal of success or seek validation through their children, often mirroring the methods they experienced during their childhoods. Technological advancements have blurred the boundaries between parents and children, allowing parents to be constantly available and inundating them with excessive information. This phenomenon facilitated by technology has contributed to the rise of helicopter parenting.

It is for this reason that we require an appreciation of these influences to promote a better attitude toward parenting and focus more on the development of children’s independence and self-esteem. Understanding the background, traditions, and individual personality traits that contribute to helicopter parenting can assist parents in finding a balance between overprotectiveness and fostering their children’s learning and growth.

Strategies for Building Support and Autonomy

Parents or caretakers need to be there for the child but at the same time let the child be independent and grow on their own. Parents can ensure that children gain total control and at the same time, help the children to learn from the experiences that they face in future. Promoting independence, building emotional stability, and providing for positive self-regard are crucial factors in the development of confident individuals to face life’s hurdles. 

  • Encourage Decision-Making: Encourage the child to participate in decision-making activities that are within the age limit so that she or he can learn to be independent and have confidence in the choices being made.
  • Allow failure- Allow the kid to interpret the cause of failure and guide them throughout of process instead of demeaning them for setbacks.
  • Emotional stability- Validate your child’s experiences and opinions and allow them to express their beliefs and feelings so they can feel comfortable sharing with you
  • Provide growth opportunities– Gradually expose them to suitable roles and responsibilities to enhance their confidence in managing things on their own.

Read more: The Evolution of Parenting Styles: A Deeper Look

Even though helicopter parents may have good intentions in wanting to protect their children from harm as well as ensuring that they get the best shots in life, these psychological outcomes are rather profound when it comes to the children. Therefore, by exercising the autonomy, resilience, and self-efficacy of parents as the critical factors that produce vital changes in children’s growth and development, parents can learn to be a little more reasonable in their ways of raising their children. Finally, to foster their children’s ability to deal with life’s challenges, parents adopt the highest form of resources for them.

References +
  • LeMoyne, T., & Buchanan, T. (2011). Does “hovering” matter? Helicopter parenting and its effect on well-being. Sociological Spectrum31(4), 399-418.
  • Schiffrin, H. H., Liss, M., Miles-McLean, H., Geary, K. A., Erchull, M. J., & Tashner, T. (2014). Helping or hovering? The effects of helicopter parenting on college students’ well-being. Journal of child and family studies23, 548-557.
  • Muljadi, J., Defiana, I., & Faqih, M. (2018). Sensory Design: Working and Community Place for Adult with Austim Spectrum Disorder in Surabaya. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 8(6). https://doi.org/10.29322/ijsrp.8.6.2018.p7848
  • Van Ingen, D. J., Freiheit, S. R., Steinfeldt, J. A., Moore, L. L., Wimer, D. J., Knutt, A. D., Scapinello, S., & Roberts, A. (2015). Helicopter Parenting: The effect of an overbearing caregiving style on peer attachment and Self‐Efficacy. Journal of College Counseling, 18(1), 7–20. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-1882.2015.00065.x
  • Helicopter parenting may negatively affect children’s Emotional Well-Being, behavior. (2018, June 18). https://www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/06/helicopter-parenting

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