Helicopters, Drill Sergeants, and Consultants: Which Parenting Style are You?

Effective Parenting Styles

Early in the development of Love and Logic, we came up with Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants as analogies for three parenting styles. Most parents fall into one of these styles. Recently we have had calls about helicopter and drill sergeant parenting styles and how these parents struggle with their kids. Here are brief descriptions of each of these styles.

Some parents constantly rescue and protect their kids from their teachers, other kids, and the rest of the world. Because they are always hovering about their kids to protect, we call them helicopter parents. Helicopter parents usually:

  • Take on the responsibilities of their children
  • Make decisions for their children rather than letting them learn from their own decisions
  • Protect their children from any possible negative feelings

Other parents constantly command and control their kids, barking orders and attempting to control the lives of their kids. We call these parents drill sergeants because they often resemble the classic model of a drill sergeant. Drill sergeant parents usually:

  • Tell their children how they should handle responsibilities
  • Make decisions for their children and command them to comply
  • Tell their children how they should feel

The third category is quite different from these overly protective or overly controlling parenting styles. Consultant parents are always willing to share alternatives with their kids. They describe how they would solve problems to their kids, and they also hold them accountable for the actions and decisions. Consultant parents:

  • Very rarely mention responsibilities
  • Provide alternatives for their children, explore these with their children, and allow them to make their own decisions
  • Share their feelings about their own responsibilities and performance with their children

The consultant style of parenting with Love and Logic allows kids to learn and grow through the mistakes they make. By allowing kids to live with the consequences of their choices, these parents truly help their kids learn how to make better decisions in their lives.

Love and Logic bases this effective parenting approach on four principles:

  1. Shared control-By giving away control they don’t need, parents gain control
  2. Share thinking and decision-making-Parents share many opportunities for kids to do the greatest amount of thinking and decision-making
  3. Equal shares of empathy and consequences-When parents respond with empathy instead of anger, kids can think and learn from their mistake
  4. Maintaining a child’s self-concept-When kids are given control over their decisions, and learn to make good decisions for themselves, their self-concept is improved, which leads to improved behavior and achievement

Another benefit of the consultant parenting style is a significant improvement in the quality of the parent-child relationship. The quality of this relationship is critically important for raising healthy, responsible kids.


Thanks for reading!

Jim Fay


Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants - Audio

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