Helicopter Parenting and its consequences

Parenting styles has always been under the purview of child psychologists as it is deemed as the basis of a psychologically fit child. But what is worrisome is that, we are now witnessing a new generation of parents with hyper intensive parenting styles- the so called 'Helicopter Parents'.

Ruthlessly ambitious about their future, parent secure a seat in the most elite school even when the child is in the womb, just to ensure that only the best is provided at any cost. The child is then subjected to every pro-academic activity to hone their intellectual capacities. So we now have a school kid who can decode complex computer languages yet struggles in ironing his uniform or putting together his meal just in case his mother is ill. Every miniscule need and want of the child is attended to and every effort is made to shade him from struggles, adjustment or compromise.

This can have intense psychological repercussions. Some of these helicoptered children develop to become individuals with extremely low self esteem, the so called Anxious Avoidant Personalities. The invisible umbilical cord continues throughout life, making them incapable of decision making or autonomy at any point in life.

Some grow up as little Emperors and Princesses-having every need gratified and expecting the same from the world around them. Little are they equipped to deal with no's and losses. They were raised being the centre of attention; hence they seek to be so by all means- sometimes even with defiance or aggression. This would explain the high number of impulsive adolescent suicides as a result of being unable to deal with failure of any kind-be it in academics or in relationships.

Parents may argue that it's absolutely essential to be hypertensive about their child in order to make sure that they do not miss out any opportunities or to protect them in this big, bad world. Yes, agreed...but are we overdoing it to the extent that we are rearing a hapless generation unequipped to deal with the consequences of real life?

So it's time we refine our parenting skills to ensure that we really provide the very best for our children.

  • Our children need to fall down, to hurt themselves and to get up on their own.
  • They need to make mistakes and to learn from them.
  • They need to go hungry at times.
  • They need to experience boredom.
  • They need to be said 'No' to.
  • They need to be allowed to indulge in age appropriate independent behaviours.
  • They need to be allowed to make decisions and to bear the consequences that come out of them.

And thus let's ensure that we do not deprive them of very basic life experiences. This way we will be rearing self resilient children ready to successfully ride the roller coaster ways of real life!

Article by Dr. Yamini Kannappan DPM, DNB Psychiatry
Consultant Psychiatrist,
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai

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