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Quiz: Are You a Helicopter Parent?

Naomi de la Torre is freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom with two delightful boys, ages three and six. Naomi has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, is a self-proclaimed salsa diva, and can make a killer octopus ...

Discover Your Parenting Style

Do you hover over your children like a Boeing CH-47? Do you finish their puzzles and do their homework? Do you bubble wrap your children each day before school and walk your five-year-old to the park on a leash?

6. Your three year old is having trouble finishing a puzzle and is getting frustrated. You:

a. Finish it for him. He'll learn by watching you.

b. Work with him. Ask him leading questions that will help him figure out how to fit the pieces together. Praise him generously when he completes the puzzle.

c. Tell him to find something else to do. You are too busy watching Wife Swap to help right now.

7. It's time for bed and your children won't pick up their toys. You:

a. Scream at them and threaten to throw all their toys away if they don't clean up, but still end up doing it yourself later anyway.

b. Put the kids to bed and pick up the toys by yourself afterwards. You know how you like the toys sorted into their own color-coded bins anyway.

c. Tell the kids that you will be happy for them to pick up any of the toys they like to keep. The rest will be collected and given away to children who take care of their belongings. Tell them they will have five minutes to clean up before you bring out the donation bag.

Answer Key

Helicopter Parent: 1c, 2c, 3b, 4b, 5a, 6a, 7b

Hands-Off Parent: 1b, 2a, 3c, 4c, 5b, 6c, 7a

Involved Parent: 1a, 2b, 3a, 4a, 5c, 6b, 7c

Helicopter Parent

You may be getting a little over-involved in sorting out your children's day to day challenges. Although the impulse to help our children is a good one, overparenting does not benefit parents or children. When we micromanage our children and shield them from life's natural lessons, we are not doing them any favors, but rather taking away their opportunities to learn and grow. Natural consequences can teach us many valuable lessons. Not to mention, when we learn such lessons naturally, we are much more likely to integrate that learning into our future behavior.

Hands-Off Parent

While it is always a good thing to let our children learn some of life's lessons on their own terms, you may be taking this strategy too far. Children need parents to talk to them and help them make good decisions. You may also want to consider your approach when you find yourself in a situation where your child is making poor decisions. Yelling, spanking, and other forms of corporal punishment create an additional barrier in parenting. Not only do they break trust, halt meaningful communication, legitimize violence and stifle the growth of positive self-image—but there are so many more effective ways of educating a child through positive discipline.

Involved Parent

Great job! You are involved, but not over-involved with your child. You know when to let them learn the natural consequences of their behavior and when to step in and offer a helping hand. You have found a great balance in your parenting and your children are reaping the benefits of your conscientious behavior and hard work.

Read more about parenting styles:

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