Kids of helicopter parents more likely to be mean and aggressive, says study

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Over-parenting just gave the word "mean" a whole new meaning...

A helicopter parent is one who constantly hovers over their children, making every single decision for them, and in general interfering in all aspects of their life.

Experts have consistently pointed out the negative repercussions of helicopter parenting on kids.

For example, researchers of a recent study on intrusive parenting say, “the inappropriate, anxiety-driven [over]parenting tactics not only compromise children’s autonomy, mastery, and personal growth, they often reflect a critical attitude by parents, who praise their children when they do well but withdraw affection, subtly or overtly, when they don’t bring home that A.”

Now, new research is pointing to an even more compelling reason for helicopter parents to re-think their parenting philosophy.

Helicopter parents’ kids are more likely to be mean

Yes, that right.

New research conducted by researchers from the University of Vermont, USA has found that the kids of helicopter parents are more likely to become meaner and more aggressive towards others when they grow up.

The study

Lead researcher of the study Jamie Abaied and her colleagues recruited 180 college students who were mostly female, reports Medical Daily.

The students took part in carefully crafted interviews that asked them to talk about a stressful event such as an argument with a roommate, or a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Next, their sweat levels were recorded to get an understanding of their physiological stress response to that particular experience.

More sweat indicated ‘high arousal,’ which in turn showed that the participant was more upset.

Participants with a ‘high arousal’ response were considered to be more hot-tempered and more likely to react without thinking, for example, promtly hitting ‘send’ on a nasty email, says the research report.

On the other hand, those who sweated less showed ‘blunted arousal’, a sign of the ability to stay calm and think before making a rash decision.

Interestingly, “a questionnaire determining levels of parental control revealed that more control led to higher aggression, while less control meant less aggression,” says the Medical Daily.

Explaining the logic behind their method, Abaied said:

“Basically, we were trying to get them to relive the difficult experience, just to get their bodies to demonstrate their stress response to us.

“If you’re calm, you can be strategic and planned in your aggression. You can really use your aggression to control your relationship and stay dominant over your peers.”

Parenting can have a lifelong impact on children’s lives: read more about this on the next page. 

Helicopter parenting affects kids of all ages

If you’re reading this and thinking “but college students have left their parents’ homes so how can helicopter parenting still have a negative effect?”, think again.

Even though older children may have left their parents’ home or are in the process of doing so, they are often still dependent on their parents for both emotional and financial support.

So, parents can still make a decision to take away both money and affection as a means of punishment to get the results they want from their children.

“You can do that from far away,” Abaied said.

“You don’t have to be there in person to manipulate your kids’ thoughts and emotions. We need to be really mindful of how influential the parents are. It seems like good parenting protects them. Good parenting prevents them from being aggressive in their peer relationships.”

helicopter happy

Studies also show that kids of parents who exert less psychological control over them, grow up to be happier adults.

Meanwhile, a lifelong study conducted by University College London has found that kids of parents who exert less psychological control over them grow up to be happier, more satisfied adults.

The study also points out that “those whose parents had a greater psychological control during childhood had significantly lower mental wellbeing during adulthood than those with less controlling parents.” Reportedly, the size of the effect is similar to the recent death of a close friend or relative.

Certainly food for thought, right parents?

For more on helicopter parenting and its effects, read this theAsianparent article.

What’s your take on helicopter parenting? Tell us what you think in a comment below.