Helicopter Parenting: Is It Time to Land and Let the Kids Take Off?

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A New Study In The Journal Of Pediatrics Says Maybe It’s Not Social Media, But Helicopter Parenting That’s Making Kids Depressed.

It’s not just social media, but the rise of helicopter parenting, in which kids no longer have spaces to just hang out with each other and be kids that is contributing to mental health issues. It’s titled: Decline in Independent Activity as a Cause of Decline in Children’s Mental Well-being: Summary of the Evidence.

The research summarises the decline in “independent mobility” for kids over the last few decades.

They also note that they are not claiming (of course) that this is the sole reason for the declines in mental health. Just that there is strong evidence that it is a key component. They explore a few other options that may contribute, including increased pressure at schools and societal changes.

Helicopter parenting, like any parenting style, has its pros and cons:


  1. Safety: Helicopter parents tend to be very vigilant, which can help protect their children from physical and emotional harm.
  2. Academic Success: Their involvement can lead to better academic performance, as they often closely monitor their children’s schoolwork.
  3. Emotional Support: Children of helicopter parents may feel a strong sense of emotional support and security.
  4. Life Skills: Some level of guidance can help children develop essential life skills.


  1. Independence: Helicopter parenting can hinder a child’s ability to develop independence and problem-solving skills.
  2. Stress: Constant hovering and pressure can lead to stress and anxiety in both parents and children.
  3. Limited Exploration: Children may have limited opportunities to explore and make decisions on their own.
  4. Overwhelm: Parents can become overwhelmed and exhausted, focusing excessively on their children.


It’s essential to strike a balance between involvement and allowing children to grow and learn from their experiences.


In today’s rapidly changing world, the intersection of parenting, technology, and mental health is a topic of growing concern.

Renowned social psychologist Jonathan Haidt sheds light on this issue in his research on the anxious generation, exploring the factors contributing to rising rates of anxiety and depression among young people.

As parents, educators, and caregivers, it’s essential to consider how our approach to independence and smartphone use may impact children’s mental well-being.

Haidt’s work highlights the role of overprotective parenting and excessive screen time in contributing to the anxiety epidemic among today’s youth.

Helicopter parenting, characterised by over-involvement and micromanagement, can breed a sense of dependency and helplessness in children, leaving them ill-equipped to cope with life’s challenges independently.

Similarly, the pervasive use of smartphones and social media can exacerbate feelings of isolation, comparison, and FOMO (fear of missing out), further fueling anxiety and depression.

So, how can we address these challenges and foster a generation of resilient, emotionally healthy individuals?

Haidt’s insights offer valuable guidance:

🎈Embrace Discomfort:

Haidt suggests that exposure to manageable levels of stress and discomfort is essential for building resilience and psychological well-being. Instead of shielding children from every setback or discomfort, allow them to experience and learn from adversity, gradually building their resilience over time.

🎈Cultivate Real-World Connections:

In a world dominated by screens and virtual interactions, Haidt emphasides the importance of cultivating meaningful, face-to-face connections. Encourage children to engage in activities that promote social interaction, empathy, and emotional intelligence, fostering a sense of belonging and connection in the real world.

🎈Limit Screen Time Mindfully:

While smartphones and digital devices offer countless benefits, it’s crucial to approach their use mindfully. Haidt suggests setting clear boundaries and guidelines for screen time, prioritizing quality over quantity, and encouraging offline activities that promote creativity, exploration, and personal growth.

Promote Digital Literacy:

Equip children with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate the digital landscape responsibly. Teach them about online safety, privacy, and critical thinking, empowering them to make informed decisions and navigate potential risks confidently.

Foster a Culture of Open Communication:

Create an environment where children feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns openly. Encourage open dialogue about mental health, technology use, and the challenges they may face, offering support and guidance without judgment.

By integrating Haidt’s insights into our approach to parenting and technology, we can empower children to navigate the complexities of the digital age with confidence and resilience.

Let’s strive to cultivate a generation of emotionally healthy kids who are equipped to thrive in an ever-changing world, finding balance between independence, technology, and well-being.

I work with parents  to help them learn to let go of over- parenting their kids & I ask them to ponder:

In what  specific areas do I need to allow my kids to become more independent of me?

What’s stopping me doing that? Is it because I feel needed, important, relevant in some way?

Is it because I feel guilty about my parenting or my work committments?

Have the recent terrorist attacks made me nervous and over protective – what message are my kids receiving from my actions?

What are the implications for my child, who becomes a young adult,  who then becomes a parent, of my mollycoddling them now?

In what way does robbing them of independence serve them?

I check out my Coaching Programmes if you’d like to explore healthy ways to give your kids autonomy and independence.

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