Curbing the Effect of Helicopter Parenting in an Online ESL Teaching Job


Online ESL Job

Quite simply, helicopter parents are the kind of parents that hover over students and sometimes even instructors, wanting to be involved and informed every step of the way and this may negatively affect children in an English online teaching class. These kinds of parents aren’t all bad; after all, they are demonstrating a genuine interest in their children’s lives and interests. If they are hovering around before, during or after class, they are also probably:

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  • Trying to understand the ins and outs of your lessons.
  • Curious about how their child is doing.
  • Figuring out the best way to help their child practice or prepare.
  • Making sure the child is staying safe.
  • Evaluating whether or not the child needs help outside of class.

But as every instructor of the ESL online teaching jobs knows, there’s a limit to how much hovering is helpful. When helicopter parents start to interrupt class on a regular basis, unintentionally encourage improper techniques or turn up the pressure on your student(s), it can be a big problem.

Helicopter parenting can develop for a number of reasons. Here are some common reasons:

Fear of dire consequences

A low grade, not making the team, or not getting a certain job can appear disastrous to a parent, especially if it seems it could be avoided with parental involvement. Many of the consequences [parents] are trying to prevent unhappiness, struggle, not excelling, working hard, no guaranteed results – are great teachers for kids and not actually life-threatening. It just feels that way.”

Feelings of anxiety

Worries about the economy, the job market, and the world, in general, can push parents toward taking more control over their child’s life in an attempt to protect them. Worry can drive parents to take control of the belief that they can keep their child from ever being hurt or disappointed.

Adults who felt unloved, neglected, or ignored as children can overcompensate with their own children. Excessive attention and monitoring are attempts to remedy a deficiency the parents felt in their own upbringing.

Peer pressure from other parents

When parents see other over-involved parents, it can trigger a similar response. Sometimes when we observe other parents over parenting or being helicopter parents, it will put pressure on us to do the same. We can easily feel that if we don’t immerse ourselves in our children’s lives, we are bad parents.

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Effects of Helicopter Parenting

Many helicopter parents start off with good intentions. It is a tricky line to find, to be engaged with our children and their lives, but not so enmeshed that we lose perspective on what they need. Engaged parenting has many benefits for a child, such as increasing feelings of love and acceptance, building self-confidence, and providing guidance and opportunities to grow. The problem is that, once parenting becomes governed by fear and decisions based on what might happen, it is hard to keep in mind all the things kids learn when we are not right next to them or guiding each step in an English online teaching class. Failure and challenges teach kids new skills, and, most important, teach kids that they can handle failure and challenges.

Decreased confidence and self-esteem; the main problem with helicopter parenting is that it backfires. The underlying message [the parent’s] over involvement sends to kids, however, is my parent doesn’t trust me to do this on my own, [and this leads] to a lack of confidence.

Undeveloped coping skills; If the parent is always there to clean up a child’s mess or prevent the problem in the first place, how does the child ever learn to cope with loss, disappointment, or failure? Studies have found that helicopter parenting can make children feel less competent in dealing with the stresses of life on their own.

Increased anxiety; A study from the University of Mary Washington has shown that overparenting is associated with higher levels of child anxiety and depression.

A sense of entitlement; Children who have always had their social, academic, and athletic lives adjusted by their parents to best fit their needs can become accustomed to always having their way and thus they develop a sense of entitlement.

Undeveloped life skills; Parents who always tie shoes, clear plates, pack lunches, launder clothes, and monitor school progress, even after children are mentally and physically capable of doing the task, prevent their children from mastering these skill themselves.

Dealing with Helicopter parents

Tracking Skills Progress

Similar to a report card, outline the items a student is expected to learn in your class along with a timetable for expected accomplishments. Then grade students as they progress. You can periodically (i.e. once every 4-6 weeks) pass out these updates to parents to keep them informed. Helicopter parents might be particularly interested to know if their child is progressing more or less quickly than his/her classmates, so subtly including this on the grading scale can be a big help.

Setting Classroom Boundaries

In general, as teachers engaged through the ESL online teaching jobs and trying to find a lasting solution to helicopter parenting; having parents stop class or get involved in the lesson is a risky measure. Not only can it slow down productivity, but it makes a stressful environment for the child and the teacher. If you allow parents to observe a class, it’s a good idea to create policies to guide their behavior- such as where they are allowed to observe from, whether or not they are allowed to speak directly to their children during a group lesson, etc.

Happy Teaching! Teacher Daniel

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