As part of our continued to commitment to giving students and parents all the information they need about their degree experience, we have an intriguing feature for you today at Collegiate, in the form of this guide on helicopter parenting and whether or not this is a good thing for your child’s development.

What Is a Helicopter Parent? 

The term “helicopter parent” is bandied around quite a lot, especially as international study grows in popularity. Phrases such as “cosseter” and “cosseting parent” are also used to describe a style of parenting that has been the subject of much debate in recent years. But just what do these terms mean?

A helicopter parent is often a parent who pays extremely close attention to their child, their location and their experiences whilst they are away from home studying for their degree. This is where the helicopter terminology emanates from – it can often seem like the parent is continually hovering overhead, overseeing every aspect of a student’s life.

How Can This Impact University Students’ Experience?

Whether you deem this as being overprotective, or necessary keeping watch during a crucial period in your child’s life, it’s often discussed whether this style of parenting is suitable or not. The general consensus seems to be that it inevitably depends on the individual child but below you will find some popular theories on whether or not helicopter parenting is good or bad.


Better For The Parent


According to a study by Clare Ashton-James, helicopter parents are happier than mothers and fathers with a more relaxed and distant approach to parenting. Whilst this is clearly a positive for the parents, this does not necessarily reflect the happiness of the children who may be feeling overwhelmed or suffocated.


Unprepared for Failure 


Whilst one of the clear advantages of being a helicopter mum and dad is constant support, this can backfire. As human beings, we learn from our mistakes and this helps build our character and give us priceless life experience. Cosseting can mean that your child will not learn these lessons, and this could have an adverse impact later on in life when challenges present themselves and you’re not there to pick up the pieces.




Helicopter parenting could actually contribute to a child’s mental health, which affects many students in higher education. A degree course, especially when undertaken a long way from home, can be stressful and anxious. Exams, coursework and making new friends can be difficult at times and overprotective parents can contribute to this. As a parent, you won’t always be around to wrap your loved ones in cotton wool and when that time arrives, your son or daughter could find themselves experiencing feelings of anxiety as they will not be equipped to deal with stressful situations themselves.


Decreased Confidence 


Finally, there is a theory that helicopter parenting could actually have the opposite impact of what was intended. Although you will no doubt be there for your child when they need you, some young adults can develop feelings of not being trusted to do things on their own. This can affect confidence and again, when the time comes to enter the world of gainful employment, they may lack the vital skills needed to succeed.


Is Helicopter Parenting Good or Bad?

Although this feature may seem to paint helicopter parenting in a bad light, there are of course some positives.

As parents, you are instrumental to your child’s development and you represent the people they will look to in times of stress. As with many things, balance is key. There are of course reasons to tread carefully but this doesn’t mean you can’t get involved with your son or daughter’s further education experience at all. Just bear the above in mind whilst offering measured love and support, which will help your child to develop as individuals and to have an enjoyable and fulfilling university experience.


If you’re not quite sure where that fine line is, you can take this test on whether you are a helicopter parent at the BBC website.



If you’re on the lookout for deluxe student accommodation for your son or daughter in the UK or perhaps beyond, then why not take a look at some of the stunning student residences we have available in a range of key academic regions.