You know the drill. You realise that your child has left her homework at home, and rush back to school just so that she gets it in time for class. You are glad that you did such a good job of being her mummy. But did you really?
‘Helicopter parenting’ has been the buzz word of late in Singapore, especially after the Ministry of Education’s recent Facebook post highlighting it’s many perils. For the uninitiated, helicopter parents are those “parents who take an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children”. And that also includes doing his project, and making choices for him, and constantly trying to shield him from failure.
These days, more and more Singapore schools are nipping helicopter parenting tendencies in the bud. All for a good reason, of course.
Singapore schools are turning away helicopter parents
According to The Straits Times, at least 9 Singapore schools, have taken solid efforts to discourage helicopter parent behaviour.
Most of us remember the above picture in The New Paper’s recent report, which showed a sign put up by Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School urging parents to “Let your child grow up” and to “Turn around and leave” if they were delivering forgotten items to their children.
Since then, many schools like Rosyth School, Bukit Timah Primary, Coral Primary and CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh), have also adopted this initiative.
The Straits Times reports that, in a letter to parents, CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh) principal Mrs Margaret Tan wrote, “If the (pupil) has forgotten to bring the item to school, we ask that the (pupil) has the courage to inform the teacher. She will be showing traits of integrity when she owns up to the oversight.”
Of course, exceptions are usually made in case of necessities like medicine or spectacles, and some schools like Bukit Timah Primary also provide resources like lending pupils money for recess or lunch.
5 Reasons why helicopter parenting is a bad idea
All we parents really want to do is help our children, but is too much intrusion and shielding from hurt and rejection doing more harm than good? Let’s look at how helicopter parenting can have a negative impact on children:
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- Anxiety, depression and lack of confidence: In a 5-year study on primary school children in Singapore, researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that children with intrusive parents were highly critical of themselves, and had elevated depression or anxiety symptoms.
According to Assistant Professor Ryan Hong, who led the study, “When parents become intrusive in their children’s lives, it may signal to the children that what they do is never good enough. As a result, the child may become afraid of making the slightest mistake and will blame himself or herself for not being ‘perfect’.“
“Over time, such behaviour, known as maladaptive perfectionism, may be detrimental to the child’s well-being as it increases the risk of the child developing symptoms of depression, anxiety and even suicide in very serious cases.”
- Inhibits independence: Dr Lim Boon Leng, psychiatrist at Gleneagles Hospital, thinks that Singaporeans might be particularly inclined towards helicopter parenting. He has been quoted by Today as saying, “The problem may be worse in Singapore, as many parents are kiasu and afraid their children will get left behind if they do not interfere.”
“Overprotective behaviour from parents has also been known to result in phobias. The child learns from the parent to over-appraise dangerous stimuli, and totally avoids and shuns these situations, or approaches them with great fear (phobic behaviour).”
“They are then unprepared, as they turn into youths, to be independent.”
- Fear of failure: According to Boston College psychologist Peter Gray, too much of handholding has resulted in less resilient students, “Students are afraid to fail; they do not take risks…For many of them, failure is seen as catastrophic and unacceptable.”
“Failure and struggle need to be normalised. We have to normalise being wrong and learning from one’s errors. We have raised a generation of young people who have not been given the opportunity to learn how to solve their own problems.”
“They have not been given the opportunity to get into trouble and find their own way out, to experience failure and realise they can survive it, to be called bad names by others and learn how to respond without adult intervention.”
- False sense of entitlement, and unreasonable expectations of success: When parents are overly involved in their child’s academic and social lives, children get used to having their parents do things for them, and solve their problems.
Dr Lim tells Today, “An overly-sheltered child may develop a strong sense of entitlement and belief that life will always be a bed of roses.”
Undeveloped life skills: Children who are mostly reliant on their parents for their needs usually struggle with basic life skills later on in life, like packing lunches, cleaning up, washing clothes or cooking a meal.
(Source: The Straits Times, Today)
Also READ: Helicopter parenting is damaging our children