By Teachers, For Teachers
It seems as though parents these days either don’t want to be involved in their child’s education at all, or they want to be a be too much a part of it. Those that want to be too involved are referred to as helicopter parents: They are the parents that hover over their children, and have a somewhat unhealthy vision of how much they should be a part of their child’s education. While most teachers wish that they had more parents that would be involved in their students’ education, sometimes the overbearing parent can actually hinder the success a student has in school. According to Psychology Today, a new study suggests that helicopter parenting can actually cause anxiety in children as well as inhibit a child’s emotional and cognitive growth. While it may be hard for parents to see a child fail, it is also a necessary part of a child’s development. As a teacher, you may be asking yourself what classroom management tips you can use to hinder these types of parents from landing their helicopter in your classroom. Here are a few classroom management suggestions.
Sometimes, the helicopter parent is hovering over their child so much because they are concerned for a specific reason. Give them their time to talk. Invite them into school for a meeting and find out what (if anything) is bothering them. Most of the time the parent has a concern about their child and just wants to make sure that they are OK. All you can do is reassure them that they are indeed OK. You can also come up with a plan together to help ease their minds. If their concern is that the student is having anxiety in school and needs to work alone for tests and quizzes, then reassure the parents that you are doing everything in your power to make sure their child is getting what they need to succeed.
Oftentimes the children of helicopter parents have an underlying issue, and the parents are always trying to help fix it for them (anxiety, depression, etc.). Try going directly to the student first, before the parent, and give them a chance to speak. This will allow the student to develop the coping skills that they need in order to grow, and eliminate the parents’ need to worry so much.
Helicopter parents tend to wedge their way into as many things that involve their child as they can. They can become overbearing, and make endless phone calls trying to take over. Try and redirect this energy by giving the parent a new way that they can help their child. Suggest that they become part of the PTA or help run the local fundraiser. Tell them that the community and the school needs them there, where they will be of more use.
Helicopter parents are usually concerned with a multitude of things concerning their child. Try and help them narrow their concerns down to only the essential ones. Work together to try and come up with practical solutions that will help the child, without the parent getting overly involved. For example, if one of the major issues that the parent has with their child is that they are worried the student isn’t making any friends in school, then sit down with the parent and tell them how you working to help rectify the situation.
While your perception may be completely different from that of the parents, it’s still important to validate it. Helicopter parents want to be heard, and they want to know that you as the teacher understand what they are trying to say, and what they are trying to do for their child. Even if you don’t agree with them, all you have to do is make sure that they know you understand where they are coming from.
Helicopter parents can be a challenge to work with, but nonetheless they are involved in their child’s education, and that needs to count for something. Try not to take it so personally, and just remember that these types of parents think they are just doing what’s in the best interest for their children.
How do you deal with helicopter parents in your classroom? Do you have any classroom management tips that you think will help teachers? Please share your ideas and experiences in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Skyword. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.