Fig­ur­ing it out: How much space do your chil­dren need?

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Lifestyle - Ruchika Kher ruchika.kher@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Many work­ing par­ents of­ten rue the fact that they don’t get enough time to spend with their kids. On the other hand, if the find­ings of a new re­search are to be be­lieved, then some par­ents, who give their chil­dren too much time, need to back off a bit.

The study con­ducted by the Florida State Univer­sity, USA, re­veals that chil­dren who en­joy “higher lev­els of au­ton­omy from their par­ents” have “greater life sat­is­fac­tion, bet­ter phys­i­cal health, and more con­fi­dence in their own self-ef­fi­cacy”. How­ever, chil­dren of ‘he­li­copter par­ents’ were more likely to re­port “low lev­els of sat­is­fac­tion and self-ef­fi­cacy, higher lev­els of anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.”

THE CON­CEPT DE­FINED

So, who is a ‘he­li­copter par­ent’, and why is it wrong to be one? “He­li­copter par­ents are peo­ple who con­stantly hover around their chil­dren, both psy­cho­log­i­cally and phys­i­cally, with the in­ten­tion to pro­tect them from all kinds of stress­ful sit­u­a­tions. This is ir­re­spec­tive of the age of the child,” says child psy­chol­o­gist Prachi Chitre, adding that such par­ents al­ways want to be the prob­lem-solvers for their

kids. Young mothers and fa­thers of­ten don’t even re­alise that they have be­come ‘he­li­copter par­ents.’

Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Seema Hin­gor­rany says since most new-age par­ents have one child, they end up be­com­ing overly pos­ses­sive. “Also, fears about gad­get ad­dic­tion, drugs, etc., are mak­ing par­ent­ing more dif­fi­cult in today’s day and age,” she says. Sur­pris­ingly, Chitre says such par­ent­ing has be­come com­mon in In­dia, mainly be­cause of the high lev­els of com­pe­ti­tion in all fields. “It is so se­vere in In­dia that par­ents feel that they can­not al­low their child to miss any op­por­tu­nity. They want the best, but the method may not al­ways be right,” she says.

NOT SO POS­I­TIVE, AF­TER ALL

More of­ten than not, chil­dren usu­ally bear the brunt of their par­ents’ over­in­volve­ment. Psy­chi­a­trist Aditi Acharya says such chil­dren tend to lack con­fi­dence. At a young age, it is in­grained in their minds that they will al­ways re­quire the sup­port of their par­ents to achieve suc­cess.

“Be­ing a ‘he­li­copter par­ent’ has more neg­a­tive im­pli­ca­tions than pos­i­tive, be­cause such in­di­vid­u­als produce anx­ious and de­pen­dent per­son­al­i­ties. The self-con­fi­dence and self-es­teem of a child suf­fers to a great ex­tent,” she says.

TIME TO CHANGE

How­ever, re­me­dial mea­sures can be taken to cre­ate a pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for kids. Chitre says, “It is a par­ent’s nat­u­ral in­stinct to pro­tect his or her child from dan­ger. But as ra­tio­nal par­ents, they need to ask them­selves a few questions — ‘What I per­ceive as a threat; is it ac­tu­ally a life les­son for the kid?’, ‘Do I want my child to be a re­spon­si­ble adult, who knows how to solve his or her own prob­lems?’, ‘Can I al­ways be around for my child?’, and ‘Do I want to ad­vo­cate self-re­liance or de­pen­dency?”.

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