Helicopter parents are said to be overprotective and always hovering over their children in order to shield them from any negative experiences and often take over and complete tasks at the first sign of difficulty. Helicopter parents are thought to be the reason children have trouble managing on their own as they have no real life experience dealing with challenging or difficult situations or tasks. This term especially applies in cases where a child is old enough or capable enough of completing the task themselves but the parent is hovering close by, poised to take over at any sign of a hiccup......BUT, has the helicopter parent evolved into something new...the CURLING PARENT!
A parent shared the article, "Parental anxiety can be 'paralyzing' for students, says counsellor", which highlights the new phenomena of curling parents who go one step further than helicopter parents. How is that even possible, you ask? Well, instead of parents just hovering over their children ready to assist or rescue if needed, curling parents sweep possible obstacles out of the way before children even have a chance to encounter them.
Why does this happen and what does it mean? At times sweeping obstacles away can be time saving for both parents and children, lives are busy and chaotic enough so this might seem like the right answer, especially in the moment. It also happens when parents, who are anxious or nervous of their children experiencing difficulties, want to make their kids lives easier and less stressful, so they remove any chance of a challenge arising. While curling parents are well meaning, not allowing children to experience things through trial and error can mean future struggles. The effects of curling parenting can be: children who go to college or university not being able to manage when challenges come up; not being able to manage the stress of new classes, new people and new expectations; children who experience high anxiety in new situations and with new people; children who are unable to manage everyday stressors and who start to have generalized anxiety and worry about every little thing.
Some positive changes you can make today are:
1. Allow children to experience difficult situations and new challenges. If a child struggles lend a hand and demonstrate the skill instead of taking over and doing it yourself. This can be time consuming in the moment but will have lasting positive effects.
2. Model good coping skills during times of high stress. This can mean showing children it's okay to take a break and step back from a difficult task and return to it later, taking deep calming breaths when upset, asking for help when needed and taking time to relax and care for yourself, to name a few.
3. Teach children that difficulties arise and we must tackle them head on at times, that failure happens and we can learn from our mistakes and that it's okay to ask for help to get something done.
4. Teach children that feeling some anxiety and discomfort is normal at times, that is serves a purpose to keep us safe and avoid hazards, but also that worrying too much does not accomplish anything. Negative thinking about a situation often leads to feeling anxious and upset, changing your mind set to have a positive more realistic outlook can make situations seem less challenging and more manageable.