Child looking at notebook

Vanessa LoBue for Psychology Today: Why Helicopter Parenting Fosters Failure

Psychologist Vanessa LoBue writes for Psychology Today on how keeping children from failing can promote failure. 

The term helicopter parenting was coined in the 1990s and generally applies to parents who are overly involved in their children’s lives, especially in academic and achievement-related activities. A textbook helicopter parent tends to remove obstacles that their children face in order to encourage them to succeed (Odenweller, Booth-Butterfield, & Weber, 2014). Helicopter parents are generally well-educated, well-resourced parents who are incredibly well-intentioned, looking to both protect their children from trouble and provide them with as many opportunities as possible.

However, research suggests that inflexibly trying to maintain the same level of control over children regardless of what’s developmentally appropriate can be problematic (Schiffrin et al., 2014). In fact, despite some of the positives of helicopter parenting, it has also been associated with negative child outcomes, such as higher levels of anxiety and depression, lower ratings of psychological well-being (LeMoyne & Buchanan, 2011), as well as a lack of independence and ineffective coping skills (Odenweller, Booth-Butterfield, & Weber, 2014).