When I speak to people about the ever-growing problem of helicopter parenting in our society, I like to relate back to the root problem, where the real war is. You see, helicopter parenting is one of the symptomatic battles that are being fought in the war against human sedentary behaviour. We drive more, walk less; we view TV, phones and computers more; we exercise less and consume more. All first world nations (and the others are starting to follow suit) are dealing with a decline in their population’s physical health due to these new millennial habits.
It is a war on many fronts. I would like to address the Pyramid Battle that is being fought at three levels: government (top), sport organizations (middle) and parents (bottom).
Let’s start at the top of the pyramid with governments. Governments are trying to solve sedentary behavioural problems with policy, infrastructure and education. It’s no secret that humans move around less than they did centuries before us. This has had an impact globally on the overall health of the world’s population. To tackle the problem at the early ages, each nation with its own government health and sport wings, has increased support financially and developed policies to help children start off on the right foot. This approach is noble and needed, but it takes generations to see an impact. I champion governments for trying, and I hope they continue to do so.
At the next level, in the middle of the pyramid are the national, regional and local organizations supporting the numerous sports available today for kids to participate in. These associations are filled with tireless workers, mostly volunteers, who (to some extent) benefit from government funding and policy. They are given tools to increase youth sport participation by improving the quality and certification of coaches, bettering facilities, and guidance for parental behaviours: the dreaded Parent Code of Conduct. You would think that with all of the support provided and the leadership by these knights of the community, we would be winning the war. But it is a constant battle to keep up. The better the coaching, facilities and policies, the more demanding and accentuation of the negative that permeates through parents who exemplify helicopter behaviour tendencies.
I wish both parents of a child would hold each other accountable to the parent codes they are given by their association every time their kid enters another season of organized sport. How much better would we be off if they did. Now THAT would challenge the helicopter parenting types!
At the bottom of the pyramid are the parents. The ones who support all of the sport programs by entering their kids into the organized sports. Without them, there wouldn’t be organized sports. Their children greatly benefit from these sports run by clubs and schools. They are the ones who ultimately benefit from the government’s grants, tax rebates and policies to enhance the health of the young. But amongst these well intentioned parents, lie the over demanding, “it’s never good enough” helicopter parents. They create the storm that stirs up the nest. This unrest just slows down progress, and everyone suffers.
To me, this is where change needs to take place. One parent at a time. If you want government policy to have an impact, if you want your sport organization to get better, you need to stop being part of the problem, and be a part of the solution. Stop complaining and start helping the sport associations improve. It starts with the parent. It starts with you!