Helicopter Parents May Lessen Kids' Exercise


Here’s another strike against so-called “helicopter” parenting: parents who hover too much could limit their kids’ physical activity.

According to CBS, researchers spent 20 weeks watching kids in North Carolina parks. They found that having a parent nearby cut kids’ activity levels in half. Says study author Dr. Jason Bocarro,

It’s a catch-22 for today’s parents, unfortunately. Many parents are worried about the safety of their children, so they tend to hover. The worry is — especially as we are seeing childhood obesity become an epidemic in this country — hovering is keeping kids from running around and playing with their friends and neighbors, and instead maybe sitting in front of the computer or television.

The television comment is a little confusing, given that the study was conducted entirely in parks, where kids presumably weren’t watching TV. Still, it makes sense that having a parent too close by might cramp a kid’s playing style. Parents might be actively telling kids not to run too far or too fast, or kids might just feel too self-conscious in front of their moms or dads to cut loose fully. Whatever the case, kids need a balance of safety and freedom, and that may be tough to achieve. It’s easy for us (especially if we don’t have kids ourselves) to say that moms and dads should let their little ones skin a knee from time to time. But it’s understandable that parents might not want their kids too far out of sight, especially in neighborhoods with a lot of crime. Rather than just telling parents ease up and leaving it at that, we need to be creating safer spaces for kids to play so that their parents don’t feel they have to hover.

“Helicopter” Parents Make Kids Fat? What New Study Says [CBS]

Image via Christy Thompson/Shutterstock.com

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