Over-protective parenting bad for children

Helicopter parents leave children unable to flee the nest and adjust to real life


Children with over protective parents have been associated with negative personality traits like dependency and neurosis. A study in the US has found that university students whose parents closely monitored their children as teenagers and young adults were more likely to be anxious, lack self-confidence and feel unable to take on new responsibilities.


Girls were overwhelmingly over-parented with 13% being ‘helicoptered’ – a term coined by US university officials to describe the parental trait of swooping to the rescue during application discussions.

The study asked students how strongly they related to statements such as, “If two days go by without contact my parents would contact me.” Those who agreed strongly were considered to have over protective parents. Those who disagreed had more “free ranger” parents and generally appeared to be better adjusted and more open and relaxed.

“We have a person who is dependent, who is vulnerable, who is anxious, not open to new actions or ideas; is that going to make a successful college student? No not exactly,” said the study’s lead researcher, psychologist Neil Montgomery. “It’s really a horrible story at the end of the day,” he added.


Although the study was small and produced an association rather than a direct cause-effect link, Montgomery hopes it will help parents understand that taking parenting to extremes can hurt their child’s development.

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