Helicopter Parenting: Characteristics and Consequences

Helicopter parenting is a name used to define overprotective parenting. In this article, discover what this phenomenon is and how to recognize an overprotective mother or father.
Helicopter Parenting: Characteristics and Consequences

Last update: 11 November, 2019

All parents can confirm that children don’t come with instruction manuals. Helicopter parenting is a child-rearing method that can have harmful effects on little ones. In this article, find out what it is and the negative consequences it can have on your children.

What’s helicopter parenting?

For many experts, helicopter parenting is a current phenomenon that involves excessive parenting. It’s a concept established by Eva Millet, author of the book Helicopter Parenting, which precisely explains the characteristics that define these parents.

Millet argues that this method makes parents think that children require overprotection and help to solve all their problems.

It’s estimated that this child-rearing method emerged in the United States and has spread to countries with high living standards. This phenomenon defends the premise that parents need to prepare their children for the future.

That’s why they take them to numerous extracurricular classes, sports, and language courses, among other activities. Also, they usually give them the latest toys and enroll them in the most expensive schools.

Helicopter Parenting: Characteristics and Consequences

The term “helicopter parent” came from author Haim Ginnott, who wrote about his mother hovering over him like a helicopter.

How to recognize an overprotective parent

Children are expected to become brilliant and successful adults without having to work for it. That’s why this behavior is unhealthy. Some of the common behaviors in these types of parents are:

  • Constant stimulation of their children. The best way to do so is through countless extracurricular activities that prepare them for the future. However, they overdo it so much that they somehow rob them of their childhood.
  • They solve their problems. They become the voice of their children and don’t let them make decisions on their own, even on basic things such as games. For this reason, it’s difficult for children with helicopter parents to build relationships with their peers.
  • Immediate rewards. Helicopter parents are characterized by providing immediate gratification without taking into account the sacrifices that have to be made.

Although children need to be protected and cared for, this method psychologically exceeds healthy limits. Some parents have even come to accuse their children’s teachers of being incompetent when told that their child is misbehaving or is doing poorly in school.

Why helicopter parenting exists

Multiple reasons stimulate helicopter parenting in modern society. In some cases, it’s caused by having children at a later age, product of a long and painful fertilization process.

It’s also caused by childhood trauma, pressure to avoid emotionally distancing themselves from their children, or fear that their children will fail. This last reason is also related to the insecurity caused by the global crisis that has led parents to try to make their children mature in an ill-advised way.

Helicopter Parenting: Characteristics and Consequences

Consequences of helicopter parenting

The direct consequences are very tired parents with inefficient children. This child-rearing method has been criticized by experts because it can cause anxiety and depression in parents. This is because they have to carry a huge responsibility on their shoulders, so much so that it even becomes a chore.

In children, the consequences are often sadder and more painful. Overprotected children are invaded by fear and insecurity, become unable to make decisions, and have to deal with feelings of frustration. They may even fail to become autonomous, connected, and competent adults.

In conclusion, the best way to fight helicopter parenting is with a loving and dedicated upbringing. This type of upbringing allows children to learn, explore, and develop to become independent and autonomous. In addition, it helps parents feel satisfied with the fact that they’ll raise children that will contribute positively to society.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Cuervo Martinez, Á. (2010). Pautas de crianza y desarrollo socio afectivo en la infancia. Diversitas. https://doi.org/10.15332/s1794-9998.2010.0001.08
  • Raya, A., Pino, M., & Herruzo, J. (2012). La interacción entre padres e hijos y su relación con los problemas de conducta externalizante. Análisis y Modificación de Conducta
  • Solís-Cámara, P., & Díaza Moreno, M. (2007). Relaciones entre creencias y prácticas de crianza de padres con niños pequeños. Anales de Psicología

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.