What Is Helicopter Parenting: 20 Ways to Break Free from the Hover as a Helicopter Parent

helicopter parenting

Helicopter parenting has become a prevalent phenomenon in today’s society. This style of parenting refers to constantly hovering over children, micromanaging their lives and often preventing them from taking risks and developing necessary life skills.

While these parents may have good intentions, their overbearing nature can have negative consequences on their children’s independence, self-confidence, and ability to handle challenges. If you find yourself trapped in the helicopter parenting cycle, fear not as there are ways to break free from the hover.

In this article, we will explore 20 strategies that can help you relinquish your helicopter tendencies and promote a healthy, balanced approach to parenting.

Definition of Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parenting refers to a style of parenting where parents are overly involved in their children’s lives, constantly hovering over them and closely monitoring their every move. Helicopter parents also tend to be overprotective, always ready to intervene and fix any problem their child may encounter. 

This style of parenting stems from a deep love and concern for their children’s well-being, but it often results in over-protectiveness and a lack of independence. As a result, helicopter parenting can have both positive and negative effects on the child’s development, since it can provide a sense of security but also hinder their ability to become self-sufficient and make decisions for themselves. 

Signs of a Helicopter Parent

While every parent wants the best for their child and strives to provide support and guidance, there is a fine line between being actively involved in your child’s life and hovering over them, stifling their growth and independence. If you’re looking for signs of a helicopter parent, here are a few you need to be cautious of:

1. Excessive Involvement: Helicopter parents tend to be overly involved in every aspect of their child’s life. They may constantly monitor their child’s activities, including schoolwork, extracurriculars, and social life. They may interfere in their child’s decision-making process and try to control their choices.

2. Overprotectiveness: Helicopter parents are often overprotective and go to great lengths to prevent their child from experiencing any discomfort or failure. They may shield their child from challenges, take on their responsibilities, or intervene to eliminate any potential risks or obstacles.

3. Micromanagement: Helicopter parents often micromanage their child’s life and daily routines. They may dictate their child’s schedule, hobbies, and preferences without giving them the freedom to make their own choices. They may excessively organize and plan their child’s activities to ensure everything is controlled.

4. Lack of Autonomy: Children of helicopter parents often struggle with developing their autonomy and independence. Helicopter parents may make decisions on behalf of their child, speak on their behalf, or not allow them to make choices and face consequences themselves.

5. Overemphasis on Achievement: Helicopter parents may place an excessive focus on their child’s academic or extracurricular achievements. They may push their child to excel at all costs, often setting unrealistic expectations and applying pressure.

6. Difficulty with Boundaries: Helicopter parents have a tendency to blur boundaries between themselves and their children. They may invade their child’s personal space, constantly monitor their digital activities, or excessively intrude into their social life, friendships, and relationships.

The Effects of Helicopter Parenting

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Helicopter parenting can have both short-term and long-term effects on children. In the short term, children of helicopter parents may struggle with decision-making and problem-solving skills. Since their parents have always been there to guide and control their every move, they may lack the confidence and independence necessary to navigate through challenges on their own.

In the long term, helicopter parenting can hinder children’s ability to become functioning adults who can make decisions and take responsibility for their own actions. They may struggle with developing healthy relationships, as they have not been given the chance to learn from their mistakes and grow as individuals.

Additionally, helicopter parenting can impact children’s academic performance. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Mary Washington found that helicopter parenting can lead to increased anxiety and decreased satisfaction with college life among students. These effects can be attributed to the constant pressure and high expectations placed upon the child by their helicopter parents.

Best Ways to Hover Less as a Helicopter Parent

Encouraging Freedom of Choice

One of the best parenting tips to hover less as a helicopter parent is to encourage freedom of choice in your children. Allow them to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions. While it may be difficult to let go of control, it is important to remember that independence is a crucial skill for their future success. Instead of constantly imposing your own preferences and opinions on them, give them the opportunity to think for themselves and make informed choices based on their desires and interests.

To encourage freedom of choice, start by acknowledging and respecting your child’s individuality. Understand that they have their own unique personality, likes, and dislikes and that it’s important to give them the freedom to express themselves authentically. This means refraining from pressuring them into pursuing activities or hobbies they don’t enjoy, and instead supporting and encouraging their own passions and pursuits.

Furthermore, involve your child in decision-making processes. Whether it’s choosing their extracurricular activities, deciding on a family vacation destination, or even selecting their own clothes, involve them in the decision-making process and value their input. This not only helps your child develop decision-making skills but also demonstrates that their opinions and choices are important and respected.

Allowing Your Child to Make Mistakes

Mistakes are an essential part of the learning process. Instead of always swooping in to fix everything, allow your child to make mistakes and learn from them. This will help them develop problem-solving skills and resilience, which are important for their personal growth. Offer guidance and support when needed, but avoid fixing everything for them.

While it may be tempting to constantly monitor and intervene in their every move to prevent them from experiencing failures, this can hinder their growth and resilience. By allowing them to experience and learn from their own mistakes, you are providing them with valuable life lessons and preparing them for future struggles.

Moreover, help your child develop problem-solving skills. Encourage them to come up with their own solutions to challenges they face and guide them in brainstorming potential options. This not only encourages self-sufficiency but also empowers them to handle difficulties on their own and fosters their ability to make informed decisions.

Supporting Extracurricular Activities

Encouraging and supporting your child’s participation in extracurricular activities can help develop their independence and self-confidence. Engaging in activities outside of school allows them to explore their interests, develop new skills, and build relationships with peers.

To foster independence, let your kids grow by choosing their own extracurricular activities. While guidance and suggestions are helpful, ultimately, they should have the freedom to explore their passions and make decisions that align with their interests. This will empower them to take ownership of their choices, boosting their sense of independence.

Once your child has chosen an activity, be supportive but avoid excessively involving yourself in their participation. Instead, focus on being their cheerleader and providing emotional support. Resist the urge to constantly monitor or control their every move within the activity. Allow them to take responsibility for attendance, practice, and overall engagement. This will help nurture their self-reliance and problem-solving skills.

Setting Appropriate Boundaries

While it’s important to give your child space and independence, it’s crucial to establish reasonable limits and expectations to ensure their safety and well-being. By clearly communicating boundaries, you can provide structure and guidance while still allowing them room to grow and make their own choices. Remember to communicate and explain the reasons behind the boundaries you set to help your child understand and accept the boundaries more readily. 

Additionally, involve your child in the process of setting these boundaries so they feel a sense of ownership and understand the reasons behind the rules. While doing so, establish clear consequences for crossing these boundaries, as this can help your child understand the importance of adhering to them.

More importantly, be consistent with the boundaries you set. Consistency provides stability and predictability for your child, allowing them to understand and respect the limits you have put in place. However, it is vital to review and adjust these boundaries as your child grows and demonstrates increased maturity.

Practicing Self-Care

As a helicopter parent, it can be easy to become consumed by your child’s every need. However, it is important to prioritize your own well-being by taking time for self-care activities and hobbies. Otherwise, neglecting your own well-being can lead to even more hovering and overprotectiveness.  

Taking care of yourself involves allocating time for personal activities, hobbies, and interests that bring you joy and fulfillment. Engaging in activities that help you relax and recharge, such as exercise, meditation, reading, or pursuing creative outlets, can help you reduce stress and anxiety. By investing time and energy in your own well-being, you will feel more grounded and confident, ultimately allowing your child more freedom.

Setting boundaries with yourself is also crucial. Remember that it is healthy to give your child some space to learn and grow independently. Constantly invading their privacy or micromanaging their activities can hinder their development and autonomy. By acknowledging that you have a life outside of parenting and giving yourself permission to step back, you can strike a healthier balance.

Acknowledge Your Child’s Age and Developmental Stage

Understanding your child’s age and developmental stage is essential in reducing helicopter parenting tendencies. As children grow and develop, they require increasing levels of autonomy and independence. Being aware of what is developmentally appropriate for your child can help you let go of unnecessary hovering and give them the freedom to explore the world around them.

For instance, if your child is entering their teenage years, it’s important to recognize their need for privacy and personal growth. Providing them with opportunities to make decisions and learn from their mistakes is crucial for their personal development and preparing them for adulthood.

Moreover, becoming knowledgeable about child development can help you set realistic expectations for your child. Recognizing that they will face challenges and setbacks along the way can alleviate the urge to constantly intervene and protect them from every obstacle.

Seeking Support From Other Parents

Parenting can be challenging, and it is important to seek support from other parents who may be going through similar experiences. Joining parenting groups or seeking advice from trusted friends can provide valuable insights and reassurance that you are not alone in your journey.

Even more, they can provide effective strategies to overcome helicopter parenting tendencies. These resources can help you develop a more balanced approach to parenting, incorporating healthier levels of involvement and fostering independence.

Furthermore, hearing other parents’ experiences and perspectives can challenge your own biases and assumptions. By opening yourself up to different parenting strategies and styles, you can learn to embrace diversity in parenting approaches and find what works best for you and your child. 

Other Ways to Break Free from Helicopter Parenting

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  • Be a supportive and nurturing parent rather than an overbearing one.
  • Give your child space to explore and learn from their experiences.
  • Resist the urge to constantly intervene or rescue your child from difficulties.
  • Focus on building a strong, open line of communication with your child.
  • Give your child opportunities to spend time with peers and develop social skills.
  • Avoid “constant” monitoring of their activities, both online and offline.
  • Foster a sense of responsibility and accountability in your child.
  • Practice patience as your child learns and grows at their own pace.
  • Set a positive example by demonstrating healthy ways to cope with stress and handle challenges. 
  • Let go of the need to control every aspect of their life and trust them to handle situations on their own.
  • Instead of solving your child’s problems for them, encourage them to find solutions on their own. Ask open-ended questions that promote critical thinking and decision-making skills.
  • Reflect on your children’s behaviors and identify areas where you tend to overstep or become overly involved in your child’s life.
  • Celebrate your child’s accomplishments and efforts, whether big or small, to boost their self-esteem and excel academically.

Remember, breaking free from the helicopter parenting style is not an overnight process. It requires mindfulness, self-reflection, and a willingness to let go of control. The goal is to raise confident, independent individuals who can navigate through life’s challenges with resilience and grace.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can parents strike a balance between being involved in their children’s lives and becoming overprotective parents?

A: It is essential for parents to strike a balance between being involved in their children’s lives and becoming overprotective parents. This can be achieved by adopting a supportive and nurturing approach while allowing children to develop independence and resilience. Parents should provide guidance and support but also give their children the space to explore their own interests and make decisions. By setting reasonable boundaries and expectations, parents can ensure their children’s safety and well-being while promoting their autonomy.

Q: Are there any studies that have indicated the effects of helicopter parenting on children’s mental health?

A: Yes, numerous studies suggest that helicopter parenting may have a profound impact on children’s mental health. Research has shown that children of helicopter parents may experience higher levels of anxiety, depression, and poorer overall mental health. When parental involvement hovers over their children excessively and dictates every aspect of their lives, it can hinder their ability to develop problem-solving skills and confidence. This overparenting behavior can lead to a decreased sense of self-efficacy and autonomy in children, which can have long-term negative impacts on their well-being.

Q: How can helicopter moms learn to let go and allow their adult children to make their own decisions and learn from mistakes?

A: Learning to let go and allowing adult children to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes can be challenging for many parents. However, it is a crucial part of their children’s personal and emotional growth. Parents can start by gradually giving their children more responsibility and freedom to make decisions. They should offer parental control, guidance, and support when needed but refrain from intervening excessively. It is important for parents to trust that they have provided a solid foundation for their children to make informed choices and understand the consequences of their actions.

Q: What strategies can parents use to encourage open communication with their children and foster a healthy parent-child relationship?

A: Parents can use several strategies to encourage open communication with their children and foster a healthy parent-child relationship. Firstly, it is important to create a safe and non-judgmental environment where children feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions. Parents should actively listen to their children and validate their feelings. Regular family meetings or quality time spent together can also provide opportunities for open discussions. Additionally, parents should refrain from being overly critical or dismissive of their children’s ideas and opinions.


In conclusion, helicopter parenting is a well-intentioned but often overbearing approach to parenting that can have negative consequences for both parents and their children. While it stems from a desire to protect and nurture, it can hinder a child’s development, autonomy, and problem-solving skills. To break free from the hover as a helicopter parent, it’s essential to find a balance between being supportive and allowing your child room to grow and make mistakes. 

Remember that parenting is a journey filled with challenges and growth opportunities, not a destination. Embracing a more balanced and mindful approach to parenting will not only benefit your children but also allow you to find greater fulfillment and satisfaction in your role as a parent. So, take a step back, let your children soar, and watch them flourish as they navigate the world with confidence and resilience.

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