09-19 Helicopter parenting: A key risk factor for anxiety, depression among children

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health

Helicopter parenting: A key risk factor for anxiety, depression among children

All parents want to see their children happy and healthy. They want to provide their children with everything the other children have. The growing competitiveness has given a push to the practice of micromanagement of children by parents. However, excessive involvement in children’s lives, such as doing their homework, constantly monitoring them, rescuing them from every fall, buying them everything they want, interfering in their choices, etc., can take a toll on their emotional and mental health.

Such a nuanced form of parenting is popularly known as “helicopter parenting.” With increased awareness, though the concept of helicopter parenting initially gained momentum as a necessary ingredient for the success of children, it gradually became a major reason behind the impairment of their cognitive and emotional development. There are studies that highlight helicopter parenting has the potential to trigger anxiety, depression and other behavioral problems.

Overindulgence can manifest into disastrous forms in later years in children. Since helicopter parenting leads to control over the “autonomy” of the child by exerting physical and psychological pressure, it has a range of debilitating consequences on him or her. Oftentimes, parents tend to trade-off such restraints in the exchange of love, affection, toys and other material possessions, etc. to seek obedience.

Over a period of time, the autonomy of the children increases and they thrive to hold an independent place for themselves as young adults. However, some parents continue to hover over their children for every small thing. Such an interfering kind of parenting style can be counted as an underlying factor of depression.

Helicopter parenting and anxiety

Parental involvement is necessary for developing a positive outlook toward life in a child. However, since excess of anything is bad, an enormous amount of intrusion in a child’s life can lead to a range of negative outcomes. A study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies was able to link a significant level of depression to helicopter parenting.

According to Holly Schiffrin, lead researcher of the study, “Parents should keep in mind how developmentally appropriate their involvement is and learn to adjust their parenting style when their children feel that they are hovering too closely.”

Involvement in a child’s life, or assisting them during their early phase, has been associated with positive social outlook, better academic performance, firm emotional health and stronger relationship with their peers. On the contrary, excessive intrusion by parents can cause significant anxiety, decreased satisfaction with life, lower levels of perceived autonomy, reduced level of competence and inability to get along with other people.

While most parents stop intruding into their children’s lives once they start going to college, helicopter parents would continue to hover around their teens all the time. Sometimes, they call up their children’s college teachers to argue over their grade, or restrict them from attending their friends’ parties. The persistence of such parenting can affect a child’s basic survival skills. As a result, he or she may be eventually at the risk of internalizing and externalizing problems.

This type of parenting may backfire and result in anxiety and other mental issues. The college counselors across the nation are reporting higher rates of general anxiety in this generation’s crop of students. Moreover, kids of over-controlling parents have higher levels of depression and reported feeling less satisfied with family life. They also feel less competent and confident because of the above-mentioned feelings.

Overcoming depression by letting go control

The children of helicopter parents think that their every choice must satisfy their parents. They constantly tussle between exercising their autonomy and obeying their overindulgent parents. Such a struggle triggers severe levels of anxiety and stress that can prove fatal in the long run. Therefore, children grappling with such problems are recommended to consult an expert to share their fears and anxieties.

Behaving as a helicopter parent is bad, but caring for children is not. If a loved one is suffering, be it from a problem in school, or related to health, as a parent it’s our duty to help them in the best possible way. If there’s a mental problem, or its likelihood, then the responsibilities increase manifold. If a loved one is showing symptoms of depression, anxiety or any other mental issue, connect with the Depression Treatment Centers of California to know about the best anxiety or depression treatment centers in California. You can chat online or call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-678-0400 to get in touch with our trained professionals.


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