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Dear Helicopter Parent

Look at the following images, what do they make you think of?




Helicopter parents are those moms or dads who take excessive interest in the lives of their children and an overprotective take on their safety.

The term “helicopter parent” basically describes a parent who has a tendency to hover over their child… well, like a helicopter at any given moment. Whether it is to do with school work or experiences, the helicopter parents are the parents who are always there, and sometimes are there a little too much. That is not to say that a helicopter parent is a bad parent, but there are a few effects that this helicopter parenting style can affect the child as they grow up, even if it is not intentional.

Do you have any experience (direct or indirect) of a “helicopter parent?  What do you think are the signs of having an overly-protective parent?

Read the following and tick the signs that pertain either you or any of  your close friends.

  • Your parents have been to every sporting event, school activity, and terrible play.
  • You learned to lie early on because you couldn’t do anything if you didn’t.
  • You then felt a tremendous sense of guilt for lying.
  • Dinner with mom and dad may as well be the Spanish Inquisition, do you remember everything you did this week?
  • If you don’t contact home for a small period of time, your parents are immediately issuing an amber warning.
  • You have to call Mom or Dad before making a decision
  • You count your parents as some of your best friends
  • You resent your parents for their gifts and support
  • You feel incredibly anxious all the time
  • You’re a perfectionist who is obsessed with credentials

(adapted from:;

In To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch says, “There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ’em all away from you.”  It’s like the parents of the late 1990s read that and decided they were going to be the generation that finally succeeds in protecting their child from all that ugliness.

What we forget is that he continues the line with, “That’s never possible.”

Helicopter Parenting is an extremely regimented and directed parenting style with the goal of protecting the physical and mental well-being of the child, sometimes even at the risk of stifling the child.

The main problem, though, is that when parents solve problems for their children, children may not develop the confidence and competence to solve their own problems, thus lacking self-confidence when they grow up.

Have you ever confronted your parents as to their smothering you?  What are the possible tips you may think of to help a helicopter parent?

These are some tips given by a life coach.   Do you find them useful? Why (not)? Are there any you would add? Why?

Learn to accept that their work won’t always be perfect

Let them fight their own battles. If your child has had a falling out with his/her best friend that’s something for him/her to work through.

Let them take risks.

Let consequences stand. Your child comes home once crying about the C s/he got on an essay.  You know how hard s/he had worked and you feel equally disappointed, but you have to back up the teacher.  If s/he thought it was a C paper then your child earned the C.  You have to let him/her not like it and have him/her talk you through what s/he did well and what s/he could do better next time.

Learn to leave the room. If you feel the need to take over and “help”, you leave the room. You can give one piece of unsolicited advice or demonstration, but that is it.

It would be fun if you asked your parent/s do the following quiz to see the results.  If they do not read English, help them and do the test with them.

A helicopter parent has the tendency to hover over their children and swoop in to rescue them at the first sign of trouble and are extremely concerned about their children’s futures.  This aspect is pretty wide spread in the USA, do you think it is a problem in Italy too?

Look at the covers of three different issues of Time Magazine.  Is there anything new you would like to learn about this topic?  What image strikes you the most? Why?

Read the following article and jot down the reasons why some parents defend their having high expectations from their children. If you could interview these parents what would you ask them?

Now write your letter to your real/imaginary helicopter parent and post it in the following padlet.


Creato con Padlet

Being a parent is one of the toughest things in life and though there are many councellors out there that can help parents, very few would resort to them.  Do you think parents should be given some kind of precious input when they have a child?  What about workshops for parents or leaflets that raise some kind of awareness?  What would your leaflet be like?  Look at the tips and see whether they provide some help.

Tips to independence

Overprotective parenting! A young boy secured in bubble wrap.

The most effective parent is one who balances care with appropriate levels of protection. Overdo the protection and you become too controlling but underplay the care and the child can feel neglected. Striking a balance is tricky but try to be the guiding, not controlling, hand that is always there for a hug if needs be.

  1. The fun of boredom. Despite what your child may think, boredom is a gift! In these days of constant stimulation the brain can get overloaded.
  2. The power of sorry. Teach your child to be responsible for their own behaviour. Urge them to identifying how they can right the wrong.
  3. Conflict resolution. Humans are wonderful in their diversity of values and opinions and, as a consequence, we all argue and it can be healthy.
  4. Step back if you want them to step up. In this often hectic world of balancing work and parenting, it can be quicker to do it yourself. Don’t!
  5. Educate yourself. A vital role of a parent is to prepare your child to live independently in the 21st century. Learn about opportunities and issues.
  6. Embrace difficulty. Life is challenging so foster resilience in your child by not shielding them from problems or negative emotions.
  7. Be risk takers. Life is risky. Let your child experience (controlled) risk so that they become risk aware and self sufficient.
  8. Hug it out. Like other close bonds, the parent-child relationship is built on neurochemicals. So play, laugh, hug and talk to keep your bond strong.

(adapted from:

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