It’s been observed that there are two kinds of parents: lawnmowers and helicopters. In many instances, the helicopters raised the lawnmowers. Helicopter parenting was coined as a term in 1990, 38 years ago, to describe moms and dads who hover over their children to solve problems as they arise, depriving their children of necessary coping skills. Those kids have grown up to be lawnmowers, parents who race in front of their children to mow down problems so their child won’t have to face them. Their kids are anxious.
Clinical therapist Lori Vann says it’s important not to discount the impact smart technology is playing in the rise of anxiety cases being reported in children aged 6 to 17 in the Journal of Development & Behavioral Pediatrics, up from 3.5% in 2007 to 4.1% in 2012, but says she’s alarmed by increase she’s seeing in her own office. “The helicopters, the lawnmowers, they’re doing all this stuff for their kids, and they’re not letting their kids learn these critical thinking skills,” she tells News Radio 740 KTRH. “Because that’s where resiliency comes from. You have to learn to just suck it up. And you learn coping skills.”
A look at 31,000 college students last year by the American College Health Association finds 21.6% said they had either been diagnosed with or treated for issues with anxiety, up from 10.4% in a similar study in 2008.
“Parents aren’t comfortable seeing their kids have to struggle, even though that’s a critical factor in their psychological development,” Vann says. But allowing children the freedom to fail, to fall, struggle, is what helps develop character, resolve and determination, hard as it may be. Both parents and kids need to learn, you can’t give someone independence: it has to be claimed.