Helicopter parents may prevent children from flying high

'Helicopter Parenting' May Negatively Affect Children's Emotional Well-Being And Behavior

"Children who can not regulate their emotions and behaviour effectively are more likely to act out in the classroom, to have a harder time making friends and to struggle in school". These children are more likely to have poor social skills, emotional problems, and an unsatisfactory academic performance, according to the study reported in Developmental Psychology.

Perry explained the balancing act of toddlerhood this way: "A greater desire for independence often puts toddlers in situations of increasing emotional challenge and complexity".

"Parents can also set good examples for their children by using positive coping strategies to manage their own emotions and behaviour when upset", said Perry.

For the study, Perry and her colleagues analyzed data collected on 422 mother-child pairs who were participating in the University of North Carolina's RIGHT Track research project, which is studying children's emotional regulation and development over time. Majority of the children in the study were White or African-American and from different economic backgrounds. "Let them make mistakes without stepping in". They were excessively strict or demanding parents. Commands which they repeated frequently, especially when gesturing to or physically moving their toddlers, were graded particularly highly.

The children were videotaped again when they were 5 to see how they would respond to a situation in which there was an unfair sharing of candy and to a task that required them to identify various shapes as fast as possible.

Three years later, researchers found the children of the helicopter mothers were worse at controlling their behaviour.

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The study followed 422 USA children for eight years, assessing them at ages 2, 5 and 10. The study suggested that children who are subject to this type of parenting will have a harder time regulating their emotions in school.

The study judged helicopter mothers, so-named for their habit of looming above their children, using a four-minute play task and two minutes cleaning up toys afterwards.

While the researchers only found an association, rather than a cause-and-effect link, they determined that 2-year-olds exposed to this kind of parenting ended up less able to regulate their own emotions and behavior by age 5.

What is Perry's advice to parents who recognize "helicoptering" tendencies in themselves?

Perry observed: "Our findings underscore the importance of educating often well-intentioned parents about supporting children's autonomy with handling emotional challenges". "However, it's important to recognize overcontrol can impede their ability to do so".

Perry continued that parents can help their children by talking to them about their feelings and explaining where their behaviors may come from. Then discuss how those behaviors may be hurting their ability to calm themselves in response to the emotions.

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