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Take the Helicopter Parent Quiz

Posted 11/9/2016 by UHBlog

You might be impacting your child's health and growth by being overly protective. Talk to us about how to raise independent children.

Take the Helicopter Parent Quiz.

Overly protective parents are often called helicopter parents because of their tendency to hover copter-like over their kids. You can count on helicopter parents to have the phone numbers of their children’s teachers on speed dial and to carry two different kinds of antibacterial lotions in their purse. Yet, that “choppering in” may actually impede your child’s growth.

“Helicopter parents are often too involved in decisions, not allowing their kids to develop autonomy,” says pediatrician Rina Lazebnik, MD.

While your helicoptering often comes from a loving place, it can affect your child's ability to speak up for herself later on, such as when she's sharing a health concern with her doctor.

“Most parents just want the best for their kids,” Dr. Lazebnik says. “Good parenting is allowing some freedoms appropriate for age and psychosocial development.”

Are you a helicopter parent? Take this quiz to determine your parenting style.

  1. Your husband wants to go away – just the two of you – for the night. How do you respond?
    1. Explain that you can’t possibly go. You have a middle-school-aged kid at home who might need you to give him a ride somewhere. Tell him to ask again in 10 years.
    2. Call grandma and ask if she is free to watch your child for the night.
    3. Tell your child you’re going away. He’ll need to find his own plans for the weekend.
  2. Your child gets into an argument with a friend. You respond by:
    1. Immediately calling the friend’s mom to sort the situation out yourself.
    2. Asking your child if she wants to talk about the fight, then listening to why she feels hurt. Afterwards you offer to brainstorm together different ways of dealing with the situation.
    3. Say nothing at all. Teens and their moods!
  3. Your child has a final English paper due that will heavily impact his GPA for the semester. He asks you for help. How do you respond?
    1. You stay up late, heavily editing (some might call it “rewriting”) the paper, making sure it’s formatted accurately with the right citations.
    2. You talk through the essay with your child, asking him what ideas he wants to present. If he has a question on punctuation or grammar, help him look up the answers online.
    3. Tell him to look up the Cliff Notes version of the book.
  4. Your teen has started thinking about colleges. What role do you play in the search?
    1. You flip through college books, deciding what schools he should apply to, then hire expensive SAT tutors and writing coaches to help with the application. Your child’s future is on the line, people!
    2. You set up tours at the schools your child wants to look at, talk to your child and the high school guidance counselor about schools that might be a good fit for your child, and go over financing options together.
    3. Let your child take control of all matters. It’s his future after all.

Scorecard:

Mostly As: It's time to lose the death grip on the controls. You're heading toward full helicopter parent status.

“You delay their (children's) ability to make good independent decisions,” says Dr. Lazebnik about parents who hover too much.

By not giving your child the space to fail or fall down occasionally your child risks becoming less confident and more cautious.

“If children are never allowed to make a decision, they never get the opportunity to learn from their mistakes," Dr. Lazebnik says. "They panic when they're asked to make a decision by themselves.”

The best way to lay off the throttle, is to take a deep breath and wait before jumping into a situation. Unless there's an emergency, give your child space to figure things out by themselves.

“Your kids will come to you for help when they need it,” she says.

Mostly Bs: Enjoy the view. You're a steady pilot.

As a parent, one of your main responsibilities is to help your children learn to fly by themselves. That means trusting that they have absorbed the lessons you’ve taught them – then letting them have a turn at the wheel.

“Your goal as a parent should be to allow your child to progress and develop without being overbearing, while also staying involved in their lives,” Dr. Lazebnik says.

Children – and winds – change frequently, however. If your child suddenly turns off course, help guide them to the resources and support that will help right their plane.

“Your role is to help your children get to where they want to go – not where you want them to go,” she says.

Mostly Cs: Call in the choppers. You’re giving your kids a little too much freedom.

Although children need space to grow, boundaries and limits help keep them safe.

“Too much leniency often leads to too much experimentation and bad choices,” Dr. Lazebnik says.

When kids know you're watching, they'll often pay more attention to the controllers.

“When you have boundaries, (kids) know, ‘This is what's expected of me, and if I don’t do it, these are the consequences,’” she says. When children have too much leeway and independence, they sometimes confuse this with not caring.

That said, children’s needs change as they age. Your 8-year-old often needs you to intervene more in their affairs than your 18 year old.

“In the college years is where it’s really inappropriate to be overly involved,” Dr. Lazebnik says. At that point, perhaps the best thing you can offer your child is a safe landing pad.

Rina Lazebnik, MD is a pediatrician and division chief of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Lazebnik or any other doctor online.

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