8 Tips to Steer Away From ‘Helicopter’ or ‘Lawn-Mowing’ Parenting


by Epoch Times

There have been many discussions about “helicopter parenting” and “lawn-mowing parenting” in recent years. With Singapore’s Ministry of Education and more schools stepping up against overprotective parents, it is vital for parents to prevent themselves from becoming ‘helicopters’ and ‘lawn-mowers’ by realising the negative effects of such parenting.

Parenting has changed dramatically since the 1970s. Parents had more children and spent time on bread and butter issues instead of micro-managing their children, giving them the space to fail and allowing them to learn how to pick themselves up. Nowadays, parents have fewer children and devote all their time and effort to their offsprings’ overall well-being, not realising that being overly involved could cause more harm and affect their learning process.

How do we define “helicopter parenting”? As the name suggests, parents spend a lot of time hovering over their kids, ready to jump in to help, protect, direct or swoop in for their children (even before it is needed). “Lawn-mowing parenting”, on the other hand, refers to parents who don’t just hover but step out in front of their children and clear all obstacles ahead to ensure their children’s path is smooth and without many barriers and difficulties.

You are a ‘helicopter’ parent if you:

  1. Debate with the teacher for one more mark so your child can be a grade higher
  2. Do his “project” or “art and craft” so your child can score an A
  3. Rush to school with your child’s homework when he forgets to bring it to school

You are a ‘lawn-mower’ parent if you:

  1. Referee fights – You step in to stop the fights instead of letting your children hash out the problem themselves
  2. Got your child to start with golf or piano lessons by the age of two
  3. Volunteer at the Parents Teachers Association of your child’s school before he or she enters the school

Here are eight tips to help you raise your child to be independent, self-confident and resilient:

  1. Stop controlling and start coaching8-tips-to-steer-away-from-being-helicopter-lawn-mowing-parent-Tip1.jpgInstead of doing the tasks for them, do it with them so they learn how to complete the tasks by themselves. “This means we have to manage our own anxiety and let go of our need to control,” says Laura Markham in a Psychology Today article.                                                 
  2. Do not always try to perfect your child’s work                                                                                                                                          8-tips-to-steer-away-from-being-helicopter-lawn-mowing-parent-Tip2Resist the temptation to “improve” on your child’s task. “Constant intervention undermines a child’s confidence and prevents him from learning for himself,” reminds Laura Markham in the same Psychology Today article.
  3. Build feelings of competence and a sense of mastery                                                                                                                           8-tips-to-steer-away-from-being-helicopter-lawn-mowing-parent-Tip3Demonstrating to your child a new task and letting them try it on their own encourages them to learn something new and gain confidence through the achievement of completing it independently. When they have a sense of mastery, they are less likely to be reactive to future stress and more likely to manage challenges instead.                                                                                                              
  4. Acknowledge effort, not just results                                                                                                                                                       8-tips-to-steer-away-from-being-helicopter-lawn-mowing-parent-Tip4Instead of focusing only on the end results, look at the effort they’ve put in along the way as well. Empathise with them when they get frustrated with their work. Reassurance cultivates their confidence and develops their resilience, and this will help them keep trying, practising, improving, and learning that when they work hard, they can accomplish their goals. Use terms like “I see you worked hard” or “How did you learn to do that?”                                                                                                                                        
  5. Build their problem-solving ability8-tips-to-steer-away-from-being-helicopter-lawn-mowing-parent-Tip5Rather than solve their problems for them, start giving them the language to solve their own. Some examples:
    •  What has worked before?
    •  How can we break this big problem into little pieces?
  6. Teach them how to reframe                                                                                                                                                                       8-tips-to-steer-away-from-being-helicopter-lawn-mowing-parent-Tip6Reframing challenges allows children to feel less threatened when they encounter difficulties or disappointments, and helps them focus on the possible opportunities based on the situation instead of what they have lost.                                                                              
  7. Nurture a growth mindset in your child8-tips-to-steer-away-from-being-helicopter-lawn-mowing-parent-Tip7A growth mindset is the belief that people have the potential to change. This helps bullies not remain as bullies, and transforms failure into positive lessons. This allows children to be more resilient to stress and anxiety, and have better feelings about themselves in response to social exclusion or setbacks in life.                                                                                                                                                
  8. Rein in your own anxiety and frustration levels                                                                                                                                     8-tips-to-steer-away-from-being-helicopter-lawn-mowing-parent-Tip8It can be easy to lose your temper, especially when your child gets into trouble after ignoring your advice. Always try to remain calm and be there for them. Keep your thoughts and actions to yourself ― only speak up when they really need your help or ask for your advice. When this happens, remember to provide them with appropriate encouragement as well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                Resilience is the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress. Building resilience is important in building a confident and well-rounded child. A person who has little or no confidence will see his coping abilities crumble under adverse conditions.

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