Helicopter Parenting

Parenting Approaches Series 2 of 4

Written by Mel Gutierrez, BSN, RN

When a parent always hovers at their child’s side to help them succeed, children’s success can slip out of reach. While helicopter parents have good intentions, over-involvement can prevent children from becoming independent.

Three main things separate helicopter parents from other parenting styles:

  • Knowing everything a child is doing, from schoolwork to activities
  • Intervening on the child’s behalf when things go “wrong.”
  • Not letting children make their own mistakes or deal with the consequences of the mistakes

Helicopter often overlaps with either authoritarian or permissive parenting styles. Authoritarian helicopter parents want to ensure their children are star performers. They micromanage their children’s path to success. These children often have packed schedules to give them a competitive edge. They work hard to ensure their child becomes successful in the way they want them to be successful.

Permissive helicopter parents are very preoccupied with their child’s happiness. They try to stop anything from hurting their children. They might get involved to help “solve” a fight between their child and a friend. Or they might do their schoolwork for them so they don’t feel upset about a bad grade.  These parents work hard to ensure their children get what they want.

These parents often are proud of their involvement in their children’s lives. It’s not uncommon for parents to neglect their wants and needs in favor of their children.

Children of helicopter parents often have the following problems:

  • Overreliance on parents to make decisions
  • Poor problem-solving, time management, and decision-making skills
  • Reduced ability to bounce back from failure or disappointment
  • Difficulties transitioning into adulthood and coping with independence

If a parent tends to be a helicopter parent, the most important thing a parent can do is take a step back. An important first step is to allow children time to problem-solve independently. An example of stepping back might be helping a child get set up with their homework and then only checking in on them a few times. While it may be anxiety provoking to think they might get a bad grade, learning how to fail is a critical step to learning.

While doing this, a former helicopter parent should focus on the emotions stepping back brings up. It may be helpful to look into counseling if the process is incredibly anxiety provoking. Spending more time focusing on the parent’s interests and wants outside their children is also beneficial. It’s healthier for both the parent and the children when their identity is not 100% focused on their child.


The El Paso Center for Children has several programs and access to numerous community resources to help navigate and cherish family time. For questions, please contact us at 915.307.8043 or info@epccinc.org.

The written information comes from my registered nurse education and baccalaureate psychology education. It is only intended for educational purposes. The information written for this blog is not a substitution for professional medical advice or therapy services.