15 Ideas for Positive Helicopter Parenting

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So, you can’t get enough of living vicariously through your child. I hear you—I’m the same way; the desire to “help” just never stops. Or maybe the mania just never ends!

Anyway, having been a teacher (and loved every minute of it), I now offer you some parameters for helicopter parenting—in a sane and positive way.

  1. Remember that every middle school and high school teacher has hundreds of students and every elementary-school teacher has nonstop responsibilities. 
  2. Reach out to teachers only when you absolutely must. Rarely is the keyword.
  3. Keep your tone positive, your words kind, and your attitude optimistic. Your child isn’t “perfect” after all, so give every teacher the benefit of the doubt. 
  4. Do not ask a teacher to raise a grade for any reason—not for a better transcript to send to colleges, not for improving a GPA, not for guaranteeing a kid’s trust fund, not for sports eligibility, not for anything!
  5. Ask how you can help when your child struggles with a certain subject. Should I hire a tutor? Should I insist on my child staying after school for tutoring on campus? 
  6. Be thankful for teacher/counselor email responses and show it. If an educator takes time out of an overwhelming workload to reply to you, express your appreciation. 
  7. Get real. If a teacher says that your child needs to read more or listen more closely or do homework as required, accept the “verdict.” You asked and the teacher answered. Don’t shoot the messenger.
  8. Be sure you understand a basic: most teachers look forward to teaching and love kids, so get rid of notions you have to the contrary.
  9. Support teachers. If a chemistry teacher asks for donations of T-shirts to tie-dye, step up. If they need parents to spearhead the Jog-A-Thon, carve out some time to help. This does not “buy” your kid a better grade, but it does reflect the helpful nature of your home. Teachers appreciate parents and grandparents who assist when volunteers are needed. They also love having people back them up, requiring that students work hard and do homework. 
  10. Never in a million years say, “Well, that teacher is crazy, so you don’t have to worry about doing anything he says.” Your child will have a hard-to-read-and-please boss someday, so the more coping skills, the better. Not every teacher will be able to establish a strong connection with every student. 
  11. Require your child to be respectful, helpful, and kind to all teachers and students. Announce that you can accept a B or a C in a subject, but you never want to hear that your child has demeaned anyone. “One strike and you’re in the doghouse, kiddo.” 
  12. When your child does have a personality conflict with a teacher, suggest that they find a way to work with the teacher—and complete the course. To a helicopter parent, it is annoying when a teacher doesn’t see that the parent’s child is a standout, but it’s not as bad as having no lunch or, God forbid, no cell phone. Another teacher may love that same kid.
  13. Go easy on your school website surveillance. What fun it is to peek over your child’s shoulder electronically and check out grades on a daily basis! And if you’re smart, you can be a grade-creeper without antagonizing your kids. Tip: If you see a zero pop up, give your kid a few days to resolve it. If that doesn’t happen, speak up in an offhand way, as in, “I noticed you had a zero for a homework assignment in math, so was that the day you went to the orthodontist or what?” 
  14. Let your watchful waiting lead to lots of kudos. Seize every opportunity to praise your child for the little (great) things that they, he, or she does. Look for good moments and highlight them. “So, I see you’re helping the teacher on Fridays as class monitor—that’s great. S/he must have confidence in you.”
  15. The strokes you give your child will build confidence. The criticisms will be thorns in his/her side. So, hover in that helicopter, but don’t get too blown away with “power.” Instead, do “fan-parenting” that leads to success and happiness. Your child, when starting kindergarten, is a starry-eyed spirit full of hope. Don’t dilute that joy. Build on it.

Blogged by Diane Stafford

Illustrated by Melissa Mead