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The Impact of Helicopter Parents on Child Development

You’ve probably read articles on helicopter parents. In fact, I’ve already written about helicopter parents at least once. But I found an article via a friend’s Facebook page that put things in a different perspective. Kids who have helicopter parents tend to miss important developmental milestone that support independent living skills.

One thought on “The Impact of Helicopter Parents on Child Development

  • February 4, 2013 at 4:10 am

    I can get myself around London blindfolded because when we came from rural Ireland in the ’50s – I often walked from Battersea to Oxford Street to my grandmother’s house. Could our children find their way home from the local shop?

    The restriction of children’s development is a modern-day dilemma and should be discussed more widely in order that real solutions can be implemented. The term “Helicopter Parent” distracts from the reality that all parents face – how to keep the child safe while equipping them with life skills.

    Until recently, society had natural “Rites of Passage” for children and young people (there was a time when a boy knew he had passed a milestone when he was allowed to wear his first pair of long trousers – oh, yes in this century!) and it was only 30 years that a key to the front door at 18 was symbolic of adulthood.

    Children in the western world are bereft of a Rites of Passage, most other societies still maintain these. Only children who belong to an organised religion seem to experience these “watersheds” – a Bar-mitzvah is a good example. We are focusing on the subject of life skills for children but we should be widening the discussion to ask how we can provide today’s western child with the impetus to develop, to consider him/herself capable of learning life skills, to be aware that at certain ages more is expected of them.

    When working with groups of parents, we acknowledge that as society no longer have these Rites of Passage, parents can create them in their home in any small way they can.

    Giving our children life skills is not just about letting them cycle far from home or walk back from school – it can also be about a “sense of development”‘: that he can do today what he wasn’t allowed to do yesterday and this is easily provided within the home by the child being asked (always better than allowed) to do something a bit “risky”(change a plug, for instance with distant supervision). Even a small courtesy of knocking on a child’s bedroom door at a certain age, rather than just walking in conveys an acknowledgement that the child is reaching a milestone – it’s not all about “doing something” sometimes it’s just about “acknowledgement”

    At every coming birthday, parents can announce that “now that you are nearly x, you will be able to do x, y, z”

    Many of the life skills we want for our children were once woven into the fabric of society: it was the norm for children to walk to school (but they usually did so with three or four of their siblings – who has these now?) as it was for children to be trusted with a sum of money to pick up the groceries (we would all be guilty of tutting sympathetically if we saw a 12 year old child at the Supermarket cash out today).

    Most of us will find ourselves saying “when I was that age I was out all day roaming” if we see our child hunched over the Xbox but would twitch nervously if our child asked to be allowed to walk to the shops on the corner. Stop moaning – dooooo something about it!

    There are ways we can provide children with the experience of “roaming free” but it requires parents to stretch themselves to: there is safety in numbers and most parents have the same fear: it is possible for group of parents to organise a “mass roam” as it were with the parents nearby and the group of children experiencing the thrill of walking down a street without a parent. It’s easily done but it would require us “doing something”.


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