[Types of Parenting] Snowplow, Tiger, Panda, and Helicopter

Most mothers and fathers would say that their parenting style involves offering guidance, discipline, love, and support. But there are several ways of going about raising a child. Are some types of parenting styles more effective or desirable than others? Parenting styles can affect a child’s self-esteem, motivation, physical health, and emotional wellness.

Types of Parenting

The right parenting style may be the key to raising successful, well-adjusted children. Many people mix and match characteristics of the types of parenting styles listed below.

Snowplow Parenting

Snowplow parenting involves pushing away all of the obstacles that could make a little one unhappy, distressed, worried or fearful. Snowplow parents don’t want their children to have to deal with hardship. They do everything in their power to remove the things that stand in their kids’ way.

Think of snowplow parents as micro-managers. They want the best for their kids.

Therefore, they’re different than helicopter parents. Helicopter parents may try to impede a child’s freedom out of fear. A snowplow parent will let their kids walk to school alone or take risks as long as those activities will contribute to the children’s progress.

One of the most notorious attributes of a snowplow parent is the desire to make life easy and successful for the child. People with this parenting style will do almost anything for the child. They’ll ask for and expect special treatment and concessions. These are the types of parents that call their college-aged kids to wake them up for class or call a teacher to complain about a poor grade.

Kids these days are expected to meet a wide range of demands. Life can be overwhelming for them.

Snowplow parents have the best intentions. They want to prevent their kids from dealing with anxiety or burning out. However, they don’t let their children figure out how to navigate life on their own.

Snowplow parenting can reduce a child’s exposure to stress. But it also teaches kids that they can’t handle major life events and problems.

Snowplow parents might want to give their kids more opportunities to handle their own problems. They should also make sure that they’re available if their kids have any questions. Instead of doing the work for their kids, though, they can model the process of making decisions and managing intense or confusing emotions.

Tiger Parenting

Tiger parents are strict, demanding and pushy. The have an authoritarian parenting style. This involves setting firm rules and using forcible tactics to drive their kids toward success.

Tiger parenting is based on Asian values. It emphasizes academic and financial success over emotional balance. These types of parents have extremely high expectations. But that’s only because they want the best for their kids.

While tiger parenting doesn’t focus on punishment, it does concentrate on discipline. Tiger parents support their children in developing self-control and motivation. They believe that those qualities are vital for gaining a good education and excelling in school and work.

Tiger parents may also push their children to take part in activities in which they can receive awards and recognition. Children of tiger parents may have to practice a musical instrument every day or get extra training in the team sports that they play.

They may not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities that aren’t geared toward academics or career success. For example, these kids might not be allowed to go to friends’ houses after school or have sleepovers. Instead, they follow a stringent schedule that helps them build their intellectual strengths.

While tiger parents often praise their children for doing well, they can produce kids with low self-esteem. Children with these types of parents might feel as though they’re not good enough if their interests don’t match their parents’ values. They also don’t get a chance to explore the world from their own perspective, which is important for little ones.

Helicopter Parenting

Panda parenting contrasts with the other types of parenting styles in this article. It’s the option that gives kids the independence to explore their worlds and make their own decisions.

Panda parents are not lazy. They simply don’t believe that kids need to be pushed toward the parent’s idea of integrity and values. Instead, they recognize that their children are individuals who must develop their own principles and standards.

They don’t intervene in every aspect of their children’s lives. Panda parents provide the structure that children need to investigate their worlds. For example, they may encourage their kids to play outside after school instead of bogging them down with enrichment activities and extra homework.

Panda parents teach their kids how to ask for help. Then, they allow them to go off in whatever direction they choose. The aim of panda parenting is to create a strong relationship with the children. Doing this allows kids to feel safe as they explore the boundaries of their lives.

Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parents want to protect their children. However, they do this from a fear-based perspective. They don’t want their children to be hurt. Therefore, they hover over their kids’ every move, preventing their children from taking responsibility.

Some triggers that lead people to become helicopter parents include:
• Fear of disastrous consequences
• Anxiety
• Overcompensation for a parent’s feelings of neglect or isolation
• Peer pressure from other overinvolved parents

Children need to fail. They learn from their mistakes.

Helicopter parents follow them, cleaning up their messes and preventing them from taking missteps. While this may seem helpful and cautious, it often backfires.

Helicopter parenting can produce children with low self-confidence. Overprotective parents can make children feel as though no one trusts them to make their own decisions. Kids with helicopter parents might not learn how to cope with stress because they’re not subjected to it very often.

Moreover, worried parents can produce anxious children. If fearful parents are always warning their kids to be careful, children may become wary of trying new things or finding their freedom.

Parents want to be involved in their kids’ lives. On the one hand, too much control can prevent children from learning important life lessons. On the other hand, kids need guidelines to feel safe and trust their environments.

Incorporating the best aspects of each of these parenting styles can help everyone. Encourage your kids to follow their passions while giving them rules and natural consequences. Communicate clearly without yelling. Ultimately, following one’s intuition and doing what’s right for the family is the best route to raising a healthy, happy child.

Marnie Craycroft

Marnie hails from Maine where she spent summers buried in sand and winters buried in snow. She is the daughter of a nearly four decade veteran of the public school systems. Teaching has always been a part of her life. She founded Carrots Are Orange in 2010.

Carrots Are Orange is a Montessori learning and living website for parents and teachers.

Marnie graduated from Wesleyan University in 1999 with a BA in Economics. She spent nearly a decade working in investment management. In 2006, she earned her MA in business from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.

Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999 and currently lives in Boulder with her husband and three sons. She is Montessori trained. Her work has been featured on Apartment Therapy, Buzzfeed, PBS Kids, BabyCenter, the Melissa & Doug blog, Huffington Post, and Besides writing, passions include running (usually after her three sons), photography, and outdoor adventures.

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