What is helicopter parenting? Experts say this "very attentive" parenting style can cause children to "miss out on learning.

Most parents want what's best for their children and are willing to do anything to protect them. But in some cases, do parents go too far in their love and willingness to guide their children?

Helicopter parents, those who practice a style of parenting that can lead them to focus too much on their children's experiences, successes and failures, are easy to spot on the playground or at school events. But what exactly constitutes helicopter parenting? Is it safe for children to have a helicopter parent?

Niyla Carson is a self-described "cool aunt" to her two nephews, ages 7 and 9, who think her sister is a real helicopter mom. Carson, who lives in Orlando, Florida, says, "I've observed my sister's parenting skills over the past nine years, and she sometimes takes things to extremes."

Carson said her sister doesn't allow her children to go out with friends, wander in and out of their social interactions and refuses to let them learn from their mistakes. "All their clothes and toys were picked up by her, and the house food was prepared and served bite by bite," Carson said. "She gave them everything they wanted and discouraged them from doing anything on their own - from schoolwork to chores."

Carson worries that her nephews are learning to expect the same treatment from other family members and society.

What is Helicopter Parenting?
Charlotte Reznick is a child and adolescent psychologist in Brentwood, California, and author of the book The Power of a Child's Imagination. "In my time, I've seen a lot of helicopter parents," Reznick told Yahoo Life. "Parents want to do their best …… [but sometimes] their concern and worry comes out in a very vigilant parenting style, like a helicopter, where they hover over it and check everything their child is doing."

Is Helicopter Parenting Safe?
According to Reznick, this type of parenting can get in the way of the basic purpose of parenthood.

"Considering that part of a parent's job is to raise a responsible young person when they're about 18," she says, "then the process of letting go and gradually giving more freedom and responsibility is important."

Reznick believes that by constantly stepping in to protect and correct children, growing children and teens have a hard time finding opportunities to develop the skills they need to become responsible and independent young adults. While most of the kids I see like it when their parents do things for them and resist doing much for themselves," she says, "if parents do everything for their kids, kids miss out on learning simple tasks like doing laundry and making beds, cooking meals, knowing how to get out of a situation or choose their friends and jobs wisely because they never have a chance to learn from their mistakes."

Brent Crane, a marriage and family therapist in Sugarland, Texas, who specializes in working with teens with severe behavioral struggles, one of the things Crane teaches families to recognize are the signs of problems caused by overindulgent parenting and how to work to correct those behaviors.

The impact of helicopter parenting on children
"In a world of risk, where parents often feel undefined, helicopter parenting can be very soothing," Crane says. "Parents feel like they are making a difference for their children, and it provides a sense of security for parents." While these factors may empower parents and provide some tangible benefits in terms of protecting their children, it's a completely different story for children.

According to Crane, when parents hover, children can become resentful or dependent - and in some cases, both. This can create conflict between parent and child because it implies a lack of trust or confidence.

"When children feel their parents don't trust them, they naturally either accept the idea that they are less capable and the world is more dangerous, or they begin to feel that their parents are an untrustworthy source of information," he says.

How to stop helicopter parenting
Christina Garrett, a pastor's wife, productivity coach and homeschooling mom of five children ranging in age from 3 to 13, is considered a "recovering helicopter mom.

Garrett, who lives in Montgomery, Alabama, shares, "My children are around me every day and I am inadvertently preoccupied with their decisions, big and small." "Now, after having challenging conversations with my fledgling teens, I realize I don't monitor their behavior 24/7."

While it takes a tremendous amount of trust and communication to teach children about the world around them and get them to set their own course, Garrett shares that this is something she realized she needed to do. She encourages parents to stay focused, but reminds them that when adopting a helicopter parenting style, they often forget about their own needs, health and growth.

Crane says it's OK for parents to stop hovering. "The painful truth is that children need to fail," he explains. "They need to stumble, they need to experience rejection and loneliness."

"While parents have a critical role in moderating the level of exposure and challenge their children face," Crane adds, "sometimes they have to step back and let their children stand on their own two feet."

His final tip?Crane says parents should express confidence that their child can solve the problem, then cheer from the sidelines. "It may just save your child," he said.

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