Always feel the need to ‘save’ your child every time? You’re not alone. Our writer gets a reality check when she almost hijacked her daughter’s craft project.

Helicopter Parent

I never thought I would be at risk of helicopter parenting tendencies until I attended an arts and crafts workshop with my daughter.

For the uninitiated, helicopter parenting is a style of parenting by “parents who focus excessively on their children and keep hovering around them to extend help even for a mundane thing,” wrote Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To Guide.

What was tricky about this kids art workshop was that there was a contest, and it was timed, which added even more pressure.

Want to witness true helicopter parenting in action? Head to any kids event involving a live contest or challenge. There you will see parents taking over their children’s projects: planning, cutting, gluing, and assembling just about everything, leaving the actual contestants – their children – lingering on the sidelines playing idly with the paper scraps or doing something else inconsequential like colouring a small corner, because god forbid they mess things up and render their project less than perfect.

At this point though, is the project really theirs anymore?

During the contest I kept hovering, and had to repeatedly stop myself from interfering with my daughter’s process and vision. She wanted to construct an elaborate costume with a magic wand and wings. It was excruciating for me not to jump in, especially when time was running out.

The winners turned out to be kids whose brilliant, flawless creations clearly received ample parental help. Admittedly, I felt a tinge of regret that my daughter didn’t win. Yet when I looked at her costume in all its imperfections – the wobbly wand with lopsided pom poms and her crooked rainbow wings with globs of glitter and glue – I was proud that it was hers, and I did not hijack it.

Helicopter Parenting: More Harm Than Good

At its worse, helicopter parenting boils down to hijacking your child’s learning process. Being overprotective and over-involved in your child’s social and academic affairs does more harm than good.

In Julie Lythcott-Haims’ book, How to Raise An Adult Child, the former Stanford University dean draws on research to show how overparenting can lead to psychological harm and anxiety, and how overparented kids are prone to “take less satisfaction in life.”

Addressing Singapore’s notorious kiasu culture head-on, Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) shared on their Facebook page warning against helicopter parenting.

The MOE Facebook post states:

“You want to help, but do you know that (helicopter parenting) may hinder your child from being independent, savvy and street-smart (or) make your child think he isn’t good enough, and raise his anxiety level?”

Examples of helicopter parenting include disputing grades with your child’s teachers, doing your child’s school projects, and delivering your child to school when they forget to bring it.

But as the MOE suggested, you can “help your children fly” by letting them stand up for themselves to build character, learning from their mistakes, guiding them to develop their own achievable goals, and letting them know it’s okay to fail.

If your child gets used to Mummy and Daddy rescuing them from every trouble, how will they learn to be independent and persevere? Success stems from self-discipline and self-confidence – not constant supervision.

Resist being their 24-hour savior and say to them instead, “You can figure this out.”

By Jenny Tai

This article was first published in The New Age Parents

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