Characteristics of helicopter parents [with real examples]

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So, parenting keeps evolving and today there is a group of parents fondly called helicopter parents (also called cosseting parent).

To make it clear, a helicopter mother or father is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child or children’s experiences and problems in their day- to -day life.

But how do you know if your parent is a ‘helicopter’?

Below we look at some of the most common characteristics of helicopter parenting – Of course, if you’re a parent, you may want to know if your parenting style will make your kids label  you a ‘helicopter’ which, to him/her, simply means an overbearing parent.

Characteristics of helicopter parents

Here are some of the most notable characteristics of helicopter parents including signs of helicopter parenting in adulthood.

Helicopter parenting might look slightly different from one parent to another, but, in general, helicopter parents tend to:

  • Have some level of anxiety or fear.
  • Worry more about their kids’ safety.
  • Place heavy restrictions on what children can and cannot do.
  • Rush into solving problems for children – and this is even solving problems a child can comfortably solve themselves.
  • Impose constant supervision and correction on their children.
  • Making decisions for their children without involving them, which can be pretty annoying for kids.
  • The parent also tends to involve themselves with their children’s teachers and coaches.
  • They also refuse to allow failure as part of the learning process

Having looked at the commonplace characteristics of helicopter parents, let us turn to actual examples of acts/steps/behaviors you can expect from these parents.


Examples of helicopter parenting

Here are examples of helicopter parenting:

  • Making total effort  control over a child’s life -such as making  the decision of which job your child will do and where to go and not to go.
  • Another thing is trying to control a child’s friendships by deciding whom a child should be friends with or when a child should end a certain friendship that you as a parent don’t like.
  • Taking control over a child’s activities or hobbies – many helicopter parents do this.
  • Taking control of a child’s schoolwork or sports- for example, forcing a child to practice extra schoolwork and sports activities even when the child does not want to.

Causes of helicopter parenting

If you’re a parent, you might want to get to the root cause of this not-so-liked parenting style to avoid falling into the same trap)

So, what exactly causes the domineering habits of helicopter parents?

Well, here are some of the most apparent causes of helicopter parenting:


To begin with, anxiety is one of the biggest causes of helicopter parenting. For instance, parents who are too anxious about their children’s safety or success may end up being ‘helicopters’.

Parenting style

Parenting style is another contributor. In short, parents whose parents were extremely strict are more likely to be helicopter parents.

Peer pressure

Some parents may feel pressured to conform to their peers who practice this parenting style.

Need to make heroes out of children

Some parents want to build a sense of identity/purpose from their children’s achievements.

This may make them ‘helicopters’ which damages the parent-child relationship.

Likewise, a competitive environment can contribute-parents whose children attend competitive schools or who have friends with brighter children may demand higher grades from their children.


Effects of helicopter parents

Like any defined parenting style, helicopter parenting has both positive and negative effects.

Below are some both positive and negative effects of helicopter parenting.

Positive effects of helicopter parenting

  • These kinds of parents get things done because they are productive human beings.
  • They make children feel a sense of love and importance in their parents.
  • Children feel more secure because their parents are even present in their lives.
  • When it comes to academic work, kids may do way better as parents oversee all aspects of their children’s education.
  • As regards parents, increased involvement in their children’s lives may create more contentment than parents who are not as closely involved.

Negative effects

As you might expect, helicopter parenting has some super negative effects especially, on youngsters.

Here are some:

Harms self-confidence in children

Helicopter parenting may decrease the self-confidence of children because they grow up with a mentality they can’t do things without a mom or dad.

Of course, you don’t want to bring up a child with lower self-esteem.

Kids may develop a sense of entitlement

Also, a child could start feeling somewhat entitled to things- they start expecting his or her parents to be there to do things (they won’t attempt if they’re on their own).

Hostility towards parents

Children may as well develop hostility towards parents for maintaining excessive control over their lives and their decisions.

How to deal with helicopter parents

As a child or children finding yourself with such a parent can be stressful.

In fact, studies on helicopter parenting have found it can lead to psychological distress, narcissism, drug use, and a host of other behavioral problems for their children as they grow.

Luckily, there are some effective ways to deal with your parent without upsetting them.

Below are some important points to bear in mind when dealing with helicopter parents..

  • Saying “no” where there is a need to say so – Just be polite as you say No.
  • Where possible, avoid giving reasons for your answers.
  • Wisely minimize contact with him/her.
  • Avoid their invasive questions but be honest about everything you do- you can choose to share everything freely with them.
  • Control your emotions-Try as much as you can not to be angry with your parent’s actions or decisions.
  • Establish some very firm boundaries and protect your personal space.
  • Seek professional help- it is advisable to seek professional help as soon as possible if you feel that things are continuously going south- you don’t want to get depressed or develop anxiety symptoms

Just to add, if your age allows you to, moving out might be the best long-term solution.


Are helicopter parents toxic?

If you have been wondering if helicopter parents are toxic, well, the truth is the negative effects of helicoptering tend to make the children unhealthily dependent, self-conscious, anxious, vulnerable, impulsive and not open to any new ideas and actions.



The most prominent characteristics of helicopter parents are having some level of anxiety or fear about their children’s well-being, success, safety, and more.

These parents also place restrictions on what their children can and cannot do.

Besides, they like solving problems and making decisions for their children.

Another thing they tend to do is involve themselves with their children’s teachers and coaches.

Finally, they constantly supervise and correct their children.

Just so you know, the opposite of a helicopter parent is free-range parenting (these parents are directly opposite and allow much more independence for their kids).


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