The Latest
May 28, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

How to Hover Less to Make Life Better for Kids

A new study says parents who hover too much hinder their kids' development. It's time to minimize your fears to allow your kids to start living more fully!

Whether you’re at the zoo with your toddler or crossing your fingers as he pours his first glass of milk, your goal should be to hover less to make life more full of learning, exploration and joy. And the key? Keeping your fears to a minimum — for your child’s sake.
We all want hopeful, optimistic children with can-do outlooks. But if this era of anxiety and mental health battles shows us anything, it’s that fighting for your child’s well being is a battle worth waging.
Toughen up, Mom and Dad. It’s time to gift your kids with living adventurously by owning up to your part in the matter. By now you’ve learned that helicoptering kids actually harms their development. You’ve also learned that hovering too much and doing every little thing for them actually stops their growth. So it’s time to learn how to instill confidence in your kids to embolden them by keeping your presence to a minimum.

How to Get Past Your Fears for Your Kids

From birth, kids learn new skills rapidly as well as the confidence to use them. To thrive, kids need to trust in their own capabilities as well as learn how to rebound from failures. As they grow older, they need autonomy and a sense of individuality — and you need to stop yourself from undermining that.
new study out of the U.K. shows that many of today’s parents are over bearing, and it leaves their kids with less time to play independently — a key element in childhood where kids learn the risks and dangers of outdoor play. You’ve seen kids who are bold and fearless as they climb on and over playground aparatuses as well as those who are timid like mice, afraid to climb at all.
In the book, Parenting Without Fear, author Paul J. Donahue, Ph.D. provides calm and reasoned parenting tools for modeling how to get past your fears (fears that hinder your child’s growth) in order to teach your kids to be independent, tenacious and to take control of their lives as they grow.

In Parenting Without Fear, getting past your own fears means to:

1. Lead by Example

Guard against saying things that may stop your child from doing things he may wish to try. Push yourself out of your own comfort zone by trying and doing new things, too. In watching you challenge yourself, your kids will learn to stretch themselves, too.

2. Stay Calm in the Face of Your Fears

Kids can often sense your anxiety, so if possible, try to create a sense of peace or calm. Lean on other trusted adults to help you manage triggers, and enable them to help you when you’re afraid. In addition, try to prepare yourself mentally for childhood situations you may be afraid of. Think about your triggers in advance to be prepared about how to manage your expected reaction. This can help you stay calm and collected.

3. Say, “Yes” More

A lot of parents go straight to “No” when their kids ask to do something. Short of permitting something truly dangerous — and in line with knowing your child — try saying, “Yes” more. It’s fun, it builds trust and it creates connection.

4. Know That We All Learn From Our Mistakes

Life is an exercise in mishaps — we have to learn from what goes “wrong.” If you can understand that mistakes are not to be feared, you can encourage them to try new things and when they DO make mistakes, help them find the lessons within them.

5. Be There for Them

In all aspects of life, your child needs to know that he can depend on you in all situations. You need to be there for your kids emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Know that your can pass your fears onto your kids, and that it’s absolutely not helpful to do so.


Model bravery and capability to your children and they will learn from you.
Also, turn mistakes and mishaps into helpful learning experiences so they won’t be afraid to fail.



Fear Factory: How to Manage it in Kids

Special Report: Kids and Anxiety


About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.