Helicopter Parenting Can Affect
Childhood Anxiety

In working with mental health professionals around the world, they often tell me they are seeing increased anxiety in their clients. And, they have found that the most anxious children live in households with adults who display over-the-top protecting behaviors.

These adults swoop in and rescue their children at the slightest sign of disappointment or difficulty. They problem-solve their children’s issues, robbing them of the opportunity to learn self-regulation, decision-making and confidence-building skills.

Many studies show that helicopter parenting can cause mental health issues in children such as:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Low self-esteem and self-consciousness
  • Depression

Traditional Methods to Break the Cycle

Mental health counselors, therapists, and social workers often work with families by offering parents strategies to help children independently discover their strengths, weaknesses, goals, and dreams.

They might suggest ways for parents to:

  • Nurture independence by listening to them, and not solving problems for them.
  • Teaching children to accept responsibility instead of doing their chores or homework for them.
  • Providing praise for good behavior and consequences for misbehavior.

While these are necessary parenting skills to raise well-adjusted children, these strategies may mask underlying causes of anxiety.

Strategies to Uncover Root Causes

According to Dr. Eli Lebowitz from the Yale School of Medicine Child Study Center: “We now know that about 95 percent of parents of anxious children engage in accommodation.”

At the Family Trauma Institute, we approach trauma such as anxiety from a family systems lens.

In my most recent webinar, I describe four overaccommodation examples with the last one being what a helicopter parent looks like and how this kind of overprotection can maintain a child or adolescent’s anxiety.

Young boy showing anxiety with list of parent overaccommodation examples

 Watch the Webinar Replay

Join Dr. Sells for a continuing education webinar,
Anxious Kids and Anxious Parents: Family Trauma Solutions

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