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Are You a Helicopter Parent? 10 Telltale Signs

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Helicopter parents: It's the name given to the obsessively protective moms and dads who "hover" around their kids. Of course, those kids end up becoming helpless teenagers and adults who always look for mama to swoop in and save them—a major parenting no-no. But what exactly separates the garden-variety parent from one that can't seem to give her kids a little space? Are you a helicopter parent? Check out some of the most obvious signs.

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Are you a helicopter parent?

You're close with your child—you always have been. But recently you've wondered if you are too involved in your child's life. Could you be the dreaded helicopter parent? Read on to learn about the telltale signs and how to curb your helicopter ways.

Helicopter Parenting: Defined

The term "helicopter parent" is used to describe a parent who is overprotective of his or her child and takes an obsessive interest in the child's life. The phrase was coined because helicopter parents tend to 'hover' around their kids at all times.

You can't let go.

If you feel something akin to physical pain when your little one heads out the door to kindergarten, you might be a heli-mom. Hovering parents are so attached to their kids that it's almost impossible to focus on anything else; daily activities, constant conversations and every ounce of effort is reserved for your child.

Quick Fix: Let it go!

You may feel sad when your child leaves you for the day, but remember that kids need to have alone time to develop social skills away from watching adults. Instead of moping, enjoy your independence by devoting some time to personal interests or catching up with an adult friend.

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You're a spoiler.

Some helicopter parents simply want to push their children to succeed, but others take on an enabler role instead. Since you want the best for your child, you could find yourself in the "gimme trap," where you feel obligated to provide the cutest clothes, the latest gadgets and the best of the best for your little one, without ever asking for her to work for it.

Quick Fix: Just say no.

It may be hard to look your kids in the eye and say 'no,' but refusing to give into their every whim will help them in the long run. Instead of agreeing to give your child treats on a regular basis, try tempering their need for reward by having them work towards a long-term goal, such as a family camping trip or outing with friends.

You're a lobbyist.

Some of the worst-offending hovercraft moms are the ones that treat their child's lives like an audition. Instead of allowing your child to make mistakes and reap consequences, you're constantly stepping in to prove that your child is perfect, smart, hilarious, bright, kind, generous and everything else. Hey, mom; you're not a Hollywood agent... you're a parent. Don't feel like you have to "sell" your kid 24/7.

Quick Fix: Keep quiet.

You may want to brag about your child's many achievements, but kids need to learn how to talk about themselves to peers and adults. When your child meets someone new, encourage him talk about his life and interests. And if he gets a little braggy himself, all the better!

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You're a security guard.

Picture this: Your kid's playing on the swings when another child comes up and tries to push her out of the way. Are you a helicopter parent? If your first inclination is to put on your best bouncer face and step in, the answer's probably "yes."

Quick Fix: Stay out of it.

Not allowing your child to deal with conflict robs him of life experiences. Letting your child talk through arguments with a peer will help him develop strong conflict resolution skills in the long run. Take a step back and see how he reacts; you might be surprised.

You're the homework helper.

Sure, you want your child to snag straight A's at school, but at what cost? If you're the one up until 1 a.m. gluing together a diorama of Little House on the Prairie while your child plays Angry Birds on her phone, you've gone too far. Don't forget that you already passed fifth grade; why not let your child do the same?

Quick Fix: Ask the right questions.

A lot of the time when kids ask for help with their homework, they're really asking for assurance that they're doing the right thing. Instead of giving your child the answer, encourage him to check his work or show him how to look for the right answer in a book or online. This will take a little more time to set up, but you'll be showing your child independent skills in the long term.

You're a total germaphobe.

Hey, we get it. Bacteria spreads sickness and hanging around a sniffling 7-year-old is pretty gross. But prepping your kid with bubble wrap, going insane with sanitizer and overdoing the germaphobe thing are all markers of a total helicopter parent. Kids get sick, but they also get better. You can relax.

Quick Fix: Relax (everything's going to be okay).

All kids get sick eventually, and light exposure to germs will actually help them build an immunity to constant illness. Teach your child hand washing basics, but don't obsess over antibacterial sprays, serums, and soaps, which can prevent your child from building a strong immune system.

You don't respect independence.

If you're hand-picking your child's friends, scheduling her after-school activities and dictating her diet, you're probably hovering a little too close. Independence is a great gift for kids learning to make choices and find their way in life. When you take over the decision-making, you say "I don't trust you to choose for yourself." Not very nice, is it?

Quick Fix: Give options.

Instead of making decisions for your child, help her assert independence by offering options. If you normally choose your child's outfits, try letting her choose between two different t-shirts. Small choices like this help kids feel confident and also helps them make big decisions long term.

You always give in.

Helicopter parents often harbor a huge amount of mommy-guilt, which often translates into a lack of rules or constantly giving in to child demands. If you're the one to buckle when your kid is begging for bubblegum, you're probably overprotective to the point of shielding your kid from any negative experience ever. Bad form!

Quick Fix: Let him cry it out.

Disappointment and negative emotions are just a part of life, so if your child doesn't get what he wants, don't fret. By not giving in to demands on a regular basis, you'll help your child grow up to be less materialistic and more self satisfied.

You're practically a professional toy researcher.

So, your little one wants the latest doll? Wait, you can't just buy it! You have to first research specs, check out on online rules and ask around before you acquiesce. You're so afraid that a toy won't be educational, safe or fun enough that you can't make a decision without 10 hours of online research first.

Quick Fix: Settle (just a little).

Don't let the responsibility of choosing a toy become overwhelming. Your child will love whatever you buy her because it's a special treat, not because it is the highest-recommended product on the market. As long as you make decisions with good intentions, you should feel confident making purchases for your child (even if some of them are on a whim!).

You're chronically over-prepared.

So you're headed to the zoo. Did you pack the sunscreen? How about extra snacks? Got a water bottle? How about the flare gun and life preserver? Helicopter parents are the ones that prep their kids for anything; and we mean anything. You can always spot their kids on the playground: They're the ones with the overstuffed backpack, the knee and elbow pads, a four-course meal and that miserable expression.

Quick Fix: Allow for spontaneity.

Kids love it when things get a little crazy, so go ahead and take an unscheduled trip to the park, the ice cream shop, or the movies. As long as you have reliable transportation and a little extra cash, you'll be just fine. Trust us.

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