Helicopter parent is an excellent description for an over protective parent. If a real helicopter constantly hovers above you, you will get uncomfortable. So will a child with a parent that hovers the entire time. The best gift you can give to a child is self confidence. A confident child will be an independent child.
Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist and educator became popular for his theory of Constructivism that proclaims children learn best by trial and error.
If a child is not allowed to explore and make mistakes, adequate learning cannot happen. A parent that does all the thinking for a child will produce an adult that will always need the approval of his or her “primary brain” (the parent) and won’t be able to make their own choices and decisions.
A small child cannot identify danger and therefore the parent needs to intervene in these situations. There are, however many other choices that the child, even a small child, can be allowed to make. They can for example choose the clothes they want to wear, what to buy or how to spend their pocket money. It might take a few months of trial and error but after a while they will understand the concept of money. As a parent, and the more knowledgeable adult, you can make suggestions but never force your ideas onto the child.
It is not always easy, as a parent, to not intervene in every supposedly wrong decision they make. Remember that what might seem as the wrong decision to us, isn’t necessarily the wrong decision for the child. If a child spend all his pocket money on an expensive game and doesn’t have tuck shop money for the rest of the month, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t make the mistake of feeling sorry for this poor child that will have to do with a homemade lunch for the rest of the month. It’s not a dangerous situation.
Have very definite rules for important matters. If for example a child choose not to study for a test, let him be, but make sure he knows what the consequences will be if the test is failed. Be vigilant with the consequences. The responsibility of enforcing rules stays that of the parent.
The biggest mistake a parent can make is to try and force a child in a direction he or she is not interested in. Every child has a own personality, with different talents, skills and abilities. Motivate and support your children in their choices. Help them to be the best they can be, with what they have. Expose children to many different opportunities and allow them to choose. Give guidance, relate your own life experiences and wrong choices to them, warn them against evils but never make their choices for them.
Let them learn by trial and error while you keep watch on the sideline to protect them from danger.