Helicopter parenting came to rise in the 1980s and grew out of a fear of children’s safety. The helicopter parent would tend to be overprotective of their children playing in outdoor spaces alone. In the 1990s helicopter parenting evolved into intensive parenting which entailed not only constantly monitoring one’s child but also heavily teaching and tutoring one’s child.  Today, “snowplow parenting” has become a popular parenting style and involves consistently interfering in one’s child’s life and removing all barriers as a means to ensuring a child’s success.  “Snowplow parenting” often makes children ill equipped to face real world dilemmas. Below please find 3 suggestions for avoiding “snowplow parenting.”

1. Encourage your child to help himself

2. Empathize but don’t solve

3. Help your child to be their own and best self

Encourage your child to help himself

If your child is consistently asking for help, instead of rushing to his rescue, encourage him to help himself by refusing to answer his every request. Ask yourself: is my child capable of finding an answer to this problem on his own? And if he is, allow him to come up with his own creative solution. If however, your child does not tend to ask for help, model for him how to ask for assistance so that he does not learn to struggle alone in silence.

Empathize don’t solve

When your child has an issue resist the urge to give her advice. Support your child’s feelings with empathy, which can be revealed through facial expressions and by verbally mirroring for your child how she may be feeling.  When you avoid advice giving and choose to empathize, your child is likely to be more capable of navigating challenges on her own. 

Help your child be their own and best self

To cultivate your child’s sense of authority in decision-making, ask him: “ what do you think?” For example, if you ask your child if he thinks he did a good job cleaning the house or finishing his homework he will learn to develop a sense of judgment on his own. This early practice with self-reflection and judgment will ultimately lead your child to make more confident decisions on his own in the future. 

To learn more about “snowplow parenting” feel free to contact us for an appointment or join one of our parent and me groups!

Marilee Hartling RN, MFT | Infant & Child Development Specialist | Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

*Image by Jay Holladay via MetroParent