It can be challenging to take a hands-off approach to parenting when you desperately want to protect your kids from everything going on in the world today. According to a recent study, however, being a helicopter parent can actually make it harder for kids to face challenges as they grow up—and when you really think about it, it certainly makes sense.

New research from the University of Minnesota found that kids of over-controlling parents were less likely to be able to control their own emotions and behavior. The study followed 422 American kids ages 2, 5 and 10 over an eight-year period. When parents took a helicopter approach, kids were given less opportunity to develop the skills needed to handle challenges as they grew older.

“Helicopter parenting behavior we saw included parents constantly guiding their child by telling him or her what to play with, how to play with a toy, how to clean up after playtime and being too strict or demanding,” explained Nicole B. Perry, the study’s lead author. “The kids reacted in a variety of ways. Some became defiant, others were apathetic and some showed frustration.”

The study showed that when kids were able to learn how to manage their emotions by age 5, they did better in school, had an easier time making friends and were less likely to have behavioral problems by age 10.

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Perry suggested that parents who had a tendency to want to protect their kids feelings and behaviors should instead teach them how to manage challenges and emotions by talking about difficult situations and the results of their actions and feelings.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Matthew Henry via Burst

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