In 1969, Dr. Ginott used the term helicopter parents in his book entitled Parents and Teenagers.

I came across this term a few years ago and didn’t pay much attention to it until I became a teacher and ran into a few parents who fit that term perfectly. Helicopter parents hover over their children excessively, controlling and managing their routines, tasks and decisions, and take responsibility of their child’s failures or successes.

As a parent and a teacher, I have learned that allowing a child to do what they can do by themselves helps empower them. Overcontrolling and overprotection can deplete their natural strengths and curiosity, and hamper their spirit of learning. This can make them overdependent. Many helicopter parents start off by simply helping their children become engaged in various activities and providing direction but their involvement deepens as competition with other parents sets in, or the fear of their child’s poor performance keeps them from letting their child work independently. Sadly, more often that not, children of helicopter parents end up losing self confidence and self esteem, and because they have always had an adult hovering over them, they become afraid of making decisions and coping with real life challenges.

I like to ask my kids and students to figure out how to do things when I’m sure I’ve give them instructions and they are capable of completing certain tasks. Our brain behaves like a muscle that needs to be used so it stays supple and active. Creating an environment for children to learn from failure is vital for mastering life skills. While we need to provide direction and watch out for our child’s emotional status, we need to remind ourselves of our primary goal: shaping children as self reliant individuals.