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Helicopter Parenting: Can it be Harmful to your Kids?

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The term "helicopter parent" was introduced to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2011 as a "parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child." Many parents are guilty of it -- and this could affect your child later in life.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The term "helicopter parent" was introduced to the Merriam Webster Dictionary in 2011 as a "parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child."

Many parents are guilty of it -- and this could affect your child later in life.

There’s a big difference between a good parent who protects their child, and a so-called "helicopter parent" who never lets their children do anything or make mistakes.

But many people don't realize they are "helicopter parents", and they also might not realize that by trying so hard to help kids succeed, they might actually be holding them back.

It sounds all too familiar to many parents. Looking out for your children is one thing, but one social worker says not allowing them to figure things out on their own can be detrimental to their independence.

“There's a process to everything, and sometimes when there are helicopter parents, the child does not learn the process, they learn the product,” says Kate Schwendinger, a licensed clinical social worker.

"I think every parent has the potential to be a helicopter parent,” says Laurie Duncan, the education director at the Discovery Center, who deals with parents daily.

“If we recognize ourselves as a helicopter parent, maybe we want to re-evaluate and especially as our children get older."

Duncan says the Discovery Center's rule for summer programs is dropping your child off in the lobby and letting the children go inside to play.

"It can be very challenging and scary because the parents don't get to see and be part of that experience," says Duncan.

She says parents often have a hard time letting go.

“Sometimes parents will say well I really just want to go in and see the class," says Duncan. "We really discourage you from doing that because we really want your child to be able to bond with the teacher and the class."

"It's important to know when to step in with your children,” adds Schwendinger.

"The most successful parents have been those that say, OK, I will be back to get you at this time and establish that there's a definite ending time to this,” says Duncan.

"There are absolutely times where children need to be guided, but the most important thing is to allow the child to fail and then step in to help,” says Schwendinger, “Teaching them how to do that themselves is the most important thing to do."

Schwendinger also says children who have helicopter parents are often less confident, more anxious, and feel less satisfaction from jobs well done because they most likely didn't do the work themselves.
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