Tiger moms and helicopter dads take note. You might be doing it all wrong.
Researchers in Singapore have linked ‘invasive parenting’ with high anxiety in both the parent and their children.
Naturally, this may be one good reason to ground those helicopter parents.
We encourage the ones we love to be successful. But the way in which we do that, despite the best of intentions, can have a deleterious effect on our children’s emotional well being.
A new study from the National University of Singapore (NSU) suggests that tiger/helicopter/really, really strict moms and dads are actually doing a disservice to their kids. Yes, overly involved parents are stressing their tots right out.
Who would’ve guessed it? Anxiety begets anxiety. The findings don’t exactly say one leads to the other, just that there’s a measurable correlation. Classic science, always covering its butt.
“When parents become intrusive in their children’s lives, it may signal to the children that what they do is never good enough. As a result, the child may become afraid of making the slightest mistake and will blame himself or herself for not being ‘perfect’. Over time, such behaviour, known as maladaptive perfectionism, may be detrimental to the child’s well-being as it increasees the risk of the child developing symptoms of depression, anxiety and even suicide in very serious cases,” said Ryan Hong, assistant Professor at NSU.
The study followed the lives of 263 Singaporean children, who were all seven years old when the research began, for five years. Each year, the children were asked to solve a puzzle within a certain amount of time, and each time, the parent was told they could swoop in to help at any point. Then, both the child and the adult’s recollections of how the game went were recorded.
Unsurprisingly, some parents just really want to finish the puzzle themselves. Sorry, little Timmy, your turn is over now because you’re just not doing it right..
“Our findings indicate that in a society that emphasises academic excellence, which is the situation in Singapore, parents may set unrealistically high expectations on their children. As a result, a sizable segment of children may become fearful of making mistakes,” said Hung.
As for what you can do about it, Hong suggests something as simple as rephrasing the conversation around grades from “Did you get full marks on your test?” to “How did you do on your test?”.
That and just take a chill pill, Mom and Dad.