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Helicopter Parenting: Meaning And Effects

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“Helicopter parenting,’ or “cosseting parenting,’ is the term often used in the media to describe a form of hyper-parenting, where parents discourage a child’s independence by being too involved and paying extremely close attention to their life. These managing the types of parental behaviors seem to be done out of a strong parental concern for the well-being and success of the child, however, have more negative effects than positive. Even though all parents want to see their children succeed, it’s the 86 percent of parents who are alarmingly too overprotective that takes it a little too far.

A recent study was conducted to see the parental and behavioral connections of helicopter parenting and set up the measure of helicopter parenting that was noticeable from other types of parental control “The Negative Impact of Helicopter Parenting Essay.’ The participants of this study included four hundred and thirty-eight undergraduate students from four universities in the United States, three hundred and twenty of which were women and one hundred and eighteen were men, and at least one of their parents to accompany them. The results revealed that helicopter parenting carried a separate aspect from both behavioral and psychological control. It also showed that it was positively for behavioral and psychological control. In this study, it also showed that helicopter parenting was positively linked with parental involvement and with other positive factors of the parent child relationship, but negatively of parental autonomy.

The effects of helicopter parenting have become a subject of fascination for scientists and parents alike. While there are no doubt benefits to being one hundred percent focused on your child, more and more research is proving the negative effects of helicopter parenting, and it’s not hard to see why. Helicopter parents hinder their child’s chances of being independent by continuously trying to solve their child’s problems for them, causing their children end up incapable of making the decisions for themselves. The sad part is that helicopter parents may not be aware of how they deprive their child of valuable life lessons, nor how they are hindering their growth?

Helicopter parenting is also depriving the kids of the ability to self-motivate a trait the root of independence. ‘Overall, stepping in and doing for a child what the child developmentally should be doing for him or herself, is negative,’ professor Larry Nelson of Brigham Young University, said in a statement, and stated ‘Regardless of the form of control, it’s harmful at this time period.’ But this event is simply one of the detrimental effects of this form of parenting, with other negative effects of helicopter parenting causing more problems. One such effect is on a child’s brain development, including some following detrimental problems provided.

Helicopter parents can also be described as overly ‘intrusive,’ thrusting unrealistic expectations on their kids. Because of this, a 2016 study claims kid grow up to be overly critical of themselves, and too hard on themselves, putting them at risk for anxiety and depression. ‘When parents become too intrusive in their children’s lives, it may signal to the children that what they do is never good enough,’ Ryan Hong, a professor at the National University of Singapore, tells ‘As a result, the child may become afraid of making the slightest mistake and will blame himself or herself for not being ‘perfect,” he explains.

A study published in the Journal Emerging Adulthood found that kids of helicopter parents were less engaged in their studies, while also showing that a decreased self-worth and high risk of poor behaviors was linked to having parents lacking in warmth. However, even increased love and affection did nothing to combat the negative effects of helicopter parenting, what children need is a safe space to learn through trial and error.

Children of helicopter parents can also become too dependent on their parents if for them. Letting your child fail and retry is an important part of growing up, encouraging them to learn from their own mistakes. So, I humbly ask of you, allow them to test their limits, to empower themselves through independent learning. It’s natural as a parent to be tempted to make life easier for kids, however struggling is both necessary and beneficial. Showing your kids that you too struggle, can also teach them valuable lessons about resilience and even set them up for future success. Equipping your offspring for adulthood, means granting them the ability to experience hardship and know how to solve it themselves, not controlling them or fixing it for them. Of course, you should be there for them, but there is a fine line between being involved and being told what to do.

Research has found that kids raised by intrusive helicopter parents tend to be a meaner or hostile towards other kids. As a response to extreme parental control, kids act out and assert their dominance to regain power over their lives. As such, they tend to become irritable and less patient when faced with having to relate well with peers. Though, the negative effects of helicopter parenting go far beyond behavior, they affect brain development to the prefrontal cortex which is the part of our brain that makes decisions, controls the brain’s amygdala or ‘fight or flight response.’ When kids feel anxiety, their amygdalas are in control making them feel helpless and overwhelmed. These such responses are what prevent kids from wanting to figure things out on their own.

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Even a child well into their teen years could be hindered in their ability to develop problem-solving and decision-making skills because of helicopter parenting. ‘It’s a learning time. You have to learn from experience,’ explains Frances Jensen, co-author of The Teenage Brain, told the Huffington Post. ‘I think parents should make sure they stay out of the day-to-day trial and error, because your kid is going to need to use that experience to learn when to take a risk and when not to take a risk.” Having obstacles to overcome is what helps children to build resilience, to develop coping skills to deal with things that are difficult. As they get older, they’re able to say, when facing a challenge, “Well I got through that so I can probably get through this.” Children need to learn through trial and error i.e. this worked, and this didn’t work. Though this is sometimes difficult for parents to deal with, because of course they don’t want to see their children suffer at all, with no suffering, you build no skills.

Eventually an overprotected child will grow into an adult and face adult problems: “I’m having trouble getting a job.” “I didn’t get accepted to that program I wanted.” “That guy didn’t ask me to marry him.” Whatever it is, if you have no ideas for coping with disappointment, for struggling and persevering, then you’re in trouble. I believe that kind of lack of resilience, which is the feeling of being overwhelmed as an adult and unable to cope, often ends in depression.

Another problem is that parents often want to sort of enjoy childhood all over again through the eyes of their kids. Again, I’m sympathetic, but when you blur the boundaries, because it’s fun to sort of be a teen again, it can lead to over-identification. You want to make it as enjoyable as possible for both of you: so, you want to ensure that your son or daughter enjoys pleasures you were denied and has successes that you didn’t have the first time around. But when you become invested that way, you over take it, you don’t really let your children own their own accomplishments, keeping them all to yourself. So, the child doesn’t end up feeling that whatever they did, they really accomplished. And again, they’re robbed of the feeling that they have the equipment to manage any tasks in the future.

Wanting to protect a child from suffering is also the reason why some parents tend to be very poor disciplinarians. If you are very overly involved with your child, then it’s painful to discipline them because you are so tightly interwoven that you feel like you are disciplining yourself. Which causes many parents to act as a friend and not the parent. But you know, kids have got friends; they really need parents, and parents are the people who say, “No, and this is the consequence if you do the thing that I said you can’t do.” Having parents who set limits enables kids to internalize their own moral compass. They learn to say to themselves some form of, “No, I really can’t do that; that’s my limit.” And the flip side: “Oh, I did this thing wrong, I have to make reparations, and now I feel guilty and bad.” If you didn’t provide any of this kind of training, it’s going to be harder for them to set limits for themselves and know their boundaries.

For parents who have invested heavily in excelling at parenting, who’ve made it who they are as a person, there is the risk that if something doesn’t go well for the child, it means they have failed. It’s something to be aware of, as you try to do your best for your kids: you don’t want them to be afraid of failure more for your sake than their own. What builds confidence in kids is working hard at something and seeing the impact of their hard work—even if it is partially a failure. Confidence comes from making the effort, from putting in the time, and seeing the results. So as a parent you’re better off praising your child for their attempt, even if not successful, than letting your kids know that just about everything they do is perfect story.

Popular wisdom suggests that helicopter parenting is a new phenomenon or is responsible for a host of perceived shortcomings in younger generations. Many articles claim that helicopter parenting is a distinctly Millennial parenting style, or that Millennials were the first generation to be raised by helicopter parents. The term helicopter parenting was originally coined in the 1990 edition of the book Parenting with Love and Logic. Yet helicopter parenting in some form has likely always existed.

Some factors which may play a role in helicopter parenting include the following. Anxiety; parents may be anxious about their children’s safety or success. In some parents, this anxiety may be because of a history of childhood trauma. Parenting style; a 2014 study found that authoritarian parents and those who want their children to conform are more likely to be helicopter parents. Stressful environments and peer pressure; research published in 2014 found a link between dysfunctional family environments and helicopter parenting, parents may also feel pressured to conform to their peers’ parenting style based on what parents around them are saying. Identity; some parents derive a sense of identity or purpose from their children’s achievements. This can damage the parent-child relationship and may also cause helicopter parenting. Competitive environments; parents whose children attend competitive schools or who live in neighborhoods that demand high achievement may attempt to help their children

succeed through an intrusive, controlling parenting style. Different regions, religions, and other cultural milieus have different parenting norms. Social norms; some cultures encourage a highly involved parenting style. Broader social norms about parenting can also spur shifts. For instance, fears about dangerous drivers, kidnappers, and crime mean that many parents don’t allow children to play unattended. Older generations may see this as helicopter parenting due to anxiety.

In To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch says, “There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ’em all away from you.” It’s like the parents of the late 1990s read that and decided they were going to be the generation that finally succeeds in protecting their child from all that ugliness. What we forget is that he continues the line with, “That’s never possible.” Parenting is a nerve wracking proposition. No one knows what they’re doing, especially with a first child. It doesn’t help that TV dramas and news programs continuously pump nightmare What-If scenarios into our homes and imaginations. It also doesn’t help that should you actually try to give your kids some freedom you run the chance that neighbors will call child protective services to report you. Born out of these fears and worries, Helicopter Parenting is an extremely regimented and directed parenting style with the goal of protecting the physical and mental well-being of the child, sometimes even at the risk of stifling the child.

Work cited

  1. “The Negative Impact of Helicopter Parenting Essay.” The Negative Impact of Helicopter Parenting Essay — Helicopter Parentin,
  2. Gregoire, Carolyn, and Carolyn Gregoire. “Helicopter Parents, Prepare For Landing.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 9 June 2015,
  3. Nauert, Rick. “Little Good May Come of ‘Helicopter’ Parenting.” Psych Central, 8 Aug. 2018,
  4. Nelson, Larry J., et al. “Is Hovering Smothering or Loving? An Examination of Parental Warmth as a Moderator of Relations Between Helicopter Parenting and Emerging Adults Indices of Adjustment – Larry J. Nelson, Laura M. Padilla-Walker, Matthew G. Nielson, 2015.” SAGE Journals,
  5. “| Parenting the Parents; The Impact of Helicopter Parenting.” Rush Hour Daily News | Breaking News, U.S & World News, Politics & Opinions – News around the World, 28 June 2016,

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Helicopter Parenting: Meaning And Effects. (2022, February 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
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