FSU research: Helicopter parenting hinders children’s self-control skills

Dr. Fincham
Dr. Frank Fincham

Helicopter parenting is a style of parenting in which parents excessively monitor their children and often remove obstacles from their paths, instead of helping them develop the skills to handle the inevitable difficulties of life. In their work, published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, researchers looked at why helicopter parenting may harm young adults. They found that hovering parents give their children fewer opportunities to practice self-control skills, such as the ability to manage emotions and behaviors.

When helicopter parenting hinders development of self-control skills among college students, those students are more likely to experience school burnout — exhaustion from schoolwork, cynical attitudes toward their education and perceived inadequacy.

“Burnout is a response to ongoing stress that is important because it saps the student’s energy, reduces their productivity and leaves them with a diminished sense of accomplishment,” Fincham said. “They feel increasingly helpless, hopeless and resentful, exerting less effort on their studies, which leads to lower grades. In some cases, students end up dropping out of college.”

Dr. Ross May

For parents who are worried they might be over-involved in the lives of their children, study co-author Ross May, a research assistant professor and the associate director of the Family Institute, recommends self-reflection.

“If you think you’re behaving in a way that’s counter-productive, take a moment and reflect,” he said. “We talk about mindfulness a lot. We’ve seen that mindfulness helps for outcomes. Take a second, reflect on what’s happening, understand your surroundings, know the context and then evaluate your behavior. Now, getting that understanding is going to be difficult, but that’s kind of a step one.”

Doctoral student Hayley Love and Professor of Family & Child Sciences Ming Cui contributed to this work.

 


Original Story Written by Bill Wellock featured here