San Diego Family Therapist Dr. Joanne Wendt Provides Tips for Helicopter Parents

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Overly protective, “helicopter” parents often have the best intentions, but their behavior can lead to unhealthy dependencies in both parents and children. San Diego family psychologist Dr. Joanne Wendt is offering tips to help parents overcome their controlling tendencies to ensure that kids can become independent and self-sufficient adults.

Dr. Joanne Wendt, Clinical Psychologist

The overprotectiveness of the parents gives their children the idea that the parents don’t trust them to adequately manage their lives.

Dr. Joanne J. Wendt is a licensed clinical psychologize specializing in marriage and family therapy. During her twenty-seven years of practice, she has seen many families suffering from “helicopter parent syndrome,” a common name for an overly protective and controlling parent or parents. This behavior can be very detrimental to a child’s self-esteem.

Children who never experience life’s challenges don’t have the opportunity to learn self-reliance and responsibility. Dr. Wendt is releasing these tips to ensure that helicopter parents can address and correct habits that adversely affect a child’s independence and emotional wellbeing.

1. Parents should address their own fears and worries. Dr. Wendt states, “The problem, here, lies mostly with the parent’s own insecurity being acted out upon the child. The parent may have abandonment issues, lack of self-esteem, loneliness and fears that may foster an unhealthy attachment to the child in order to satisfy unmet emotional needs. The parent, then, may 'hover' over the child to prevent the child from suffering the pain, harm and disappointment that the parent has experienced in his/her life.”

2. Think of ways to help a child become more responsible. By encouraging a child to develop personal responsibility, a parent can still provide guidance and help but with the ultimate goal of fostering independence and self-sufficiency.

3. Recognize that children need to be frustrated. Furthermore, children need to feel frustrated on a regular basis in order to learn delayed gratification and problem solving skills. Dr. Wendt states, “The overprotectiveness of the parents gives their children the idea that the parents don’t trust them to adequately manage their lives. This may result in a condition called ‘learned helplessness,’ whereby the children feel that they need the parent to take care of them in the world.”

4. Parents need to let their children experience failure and pain. No parent will be able to protect his or her child from the world’s hardships, no matter how hard he or she tries. While parents should always try to care for children and protect them from obvious harm, they should also be willing to let their children experience life, with an appropriate amount of positive and negative experiences.

Although parents are usually well-intentioned and are trying to protect their children, helicopter parenting can be harmful for a child’s emotional and social development. Children need an environment in which they are frustrated, solve their own problems, and build up confidence. For additional parenting resources, visit Dr. Wendt’s website.

About Joanne J. Wendt, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendt is a Clinical Psychologist who for 27 years has been helping individuals, couples, and families find peace and harmony in a respectful and caring atmosphere. She specializes in relationship issues, depression, and anxiety. Dr. Wendt’s goal is to help her clients discover the strength within them to achieve their highest possible potential. Her approach to the therapeutic setting is one of optimism and great respect for an individual’s readiness to meet difficult challenges and gain a greater understanding of who he/she aspires to be. Visit her online at

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