Self-Confidence: The Unintended Consequences of the Helicopter Parent

The best parents have the best intentions for their children, but in today’s times, many are unaware of the unintended consequences of their decisions that are undermining their children to grow into productive and fulfilled adults. As a life and marriage coach to parents, who are struggling with parenting of younger children, I’m seeing a disturbing trend—late teenagers and young adults with low self-concept and confidence in their abilities to “adult”. With all the attention on how to help your child have high self-esteem, how come there’s such a high degree of young adults by their own admission who don’t have it? I have a human behaviorist theory that I’ve tested in my coaching practice. Parents who’ve implemented it have had success when started early enough in a child’s life.

The Self-Esteem/Self-Confidence Problem

Parents want good things for their children, and in the process, have typically become what most would label the “helicopter” parent. The helicopter parent makes sure to give their child everything they can afford, clears the struggle from their child’s life, and heaven forbid, when their child makes a mistake, swoops in to “save the day”. They shield their child in how the real world operates and the negative consequences of their child’s poor decisions. They make their child’s life as comfortable as possible, under the rationale that they want their child to have it better than they did.

What these parents may not have self-reflected on is how their struggle helped them learn, grow, and develop resilience to not give up and to find a way through the disappointments and rejections that come with living life. Parents, with the best of intentions, are robbing their children of those teachable experiences that afford their children the opportunity to become masters over their own life by struggling through and finding a way to the other side of their disappointments.

What are the unintended consequences of the “soft” life? These young adults have no self-confidence to work through their problems, because they’ve never had the opportunity to flex and build that muscle. They know they’ll be on their own and feel ill-equipped. They know it’s just a matter of time before they’ll be confronted with a “big” issue, and it’s causing them incredible anxiety. When will the shoe drop?

Compounding the issue is that their low self-confidence makes them unattractive to a partner who has self-esteem and self-confidence. The type of partner they attract is similar in their own struggle. I know that parents don’t want this outcome for their children.

The Solution

As a parent are you questioning whether your parenting style is setting your child up for success? The earlier in your child’s life you can catch yourself in unhealthy parenting decisions, the better the chance of self-correction and getting your child onto a development track that builds resilience and self-confidence.

If your children are older, there’s not much you can do as a parent, other than recommend an intervention. As a life coach, I work with young adults who are trying to move forward from their parenting experiences and get on a healthier adult track. If you’re a parent or a young adult who wants to further explore this topic, reach out for a conversation to discuss how I might be able to help.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life story. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Self-Confidence: Its Source And How To Grow It

While facilitating one of my Building Better Relationships workshops, an attendee asked me, “How can I give my girlfriend the self-confidence she needs?” Depression or mental illness was not a factor—just low self-confidence, which had supposedly manifested in her not expressing what she wanted, arguments, silent treatment when she didn’t get her way, a general feeling of discontent, and lack of action toward going for what she wanted in life. My reply was, “You can’t give your girlfriend self-confidence. She has to earn it for herself.” (1)Self Confidence

What is Self-Confidence?

Self-confidence is the realistic, positive belief that you can influence your world—that you have the abilities, personal power, and judgment to overcome obstacles and get what you want in life. You’re not immune to occasional fears, doubts, and failure, but overall you trust yourself and what you can do!

Self-confidence can only be developed and sourced from within. No amount of participation trophies, positive words, or kind gestures can build self-confidence, because these are only externally applied props. These supports can be cheerleading tools and enjoyable rewards, but are not substitutes for hard work and sacrifice.

You can’t ask, beg, or pay any one any amount of money to do the hard work that it takes to build your self-confidence. What spouses, partners, friends, and family can do is be supportive by providing encouragement, brainstorming, and feedback which is akin to helping a person help himself. You’ve likely heard the expression—do with and not for.

How to Grow Self-Confidence

The only times I’ve seen self-confidence grow in adults is when they attacked challenges head-on, worked hard, worked smart, and never gave up on improving themselves and their situations. When they hit a wall, instead of turning around and giving up, they instead figured out a plan of approach to get to the other side. They found a way of either digging under it, blasting through it, crawling over it, or stepping around it.

When you get to the other side of the wall, look over your shoulder, and can honestly say to yourself, “I did that,” that is the point when your self-confidence climbs another rung on the ladder. Self-confidence increases when you put your heart, mind, and soul towards something and accomplish it, proving to yourself you can get to the other side of the wall.

Role of Family and Friends in Building Self-Confidence

When spouses, parents, and friends do for you what you should be doing for yourself, they are robbing you of the opportunity to grow your self-confidence. When they rescue you from the consequences of your decisions or actions, they’re again robbing you of a teaching opportunity that can grow you. They may not be stealing a piece of you, but they are starving you of what it means to be a fully functioning, resilient, and ultimately happy individual.

The next time someone wants to bail you out or do something you know you should be doing, I would suggest you say, “No thanks. I can do it, but I sure wish you’d keep checking in on me. I may need your support, and this is what support looks like…”

(1) Men as well suffer from poor self-confidence.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, life, and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her at

Adversity: The Role of Perception and Self-confidence

Empowering questions to ask in the midst of

Building off the old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I would venture to say that adversity is a perception held by the believer. Why do some people thrive by working through adversity to reach new levels of self-confidence; whereas, others stand still or walk away when faced with a challenge? Adversity is not binary but measured on a continuum of difficulty. Everyone has a different appetite for taking on adverse situations. Why do some businessmen file for bankruptcy one day and turn around the next to launch another capital venture, while others are emotionally devastated and flounder in their profession? Why do some ex-spouses never emotionally leave their marriage after a divorce; whereas, others actively heal, move forward, and find healthier relationships? The difference between those who face challenges and those who cower usually depends on (1) the perceived severity of the adverse condition, and (2) the self-confidence to influence the outcome.

Perception and self-confidence are two factors that heavily influence one another. The more self-confidence you have that you can reduce, modify, or eliminate a source of adversity, the more likely you are to not perceive it as adverse. The less you view a condition to be adverse, the more self-confidence you have that you can persevere and facilitate a positive outcome. Which came first? Self-confidence or the perception of adversity? Because we cannot avoid the adversity that comes into our lives, we can choose to embrace it as the iron that can sharpen our self-confidence. I have never met a person with high self-confidence, who has not faced hardship and worked through it only to look back over his/her shoulder to say, “I did that!” Not that everyone has to face adversity alone, but there is a difference between working through adversity with family, friends, and your faith walking alongside you versus having them do the hard work for you.

How can one be better prepared to deal with adversity and reach a more peaceful destination? Consider one or all of the following attitude or behavior changes.

  1. Accept that adversity is inevitable in life
    • Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional
    • Allow a short amount of time to feel sad, if necessary, then divert attention to positive tasks
  1. Build internal resources
    • Before adversity strikes, cultivate emotional strength, courage, and discipline
    • Invest in self-help books and workshops
    • Talk and build relationships with counselors, coaches, and trusted friends
  2. Surround yourself with positive people
    • Be selective in people who are supportive and encouraging
    • Pick people who will accept your flaws while challenging you to do better
  3. Look for the positive
    • Focus on the positive aspects of a situation, action to achieve improvement, and a new vision for the future
    • Look for inspirational stories from others
  4. Reframe mistakes as learning opportunities
    • Find the learning in the situation
    • Share your story with trusted friend and ask him/her to pick out the lesson
  5. Write down your thoughts
    • Writing down emotions helps bring peace
    • Personal reflection provides the ability to measure progress
    • Lists of past adverse experiences and how you overcame them reminds you of your resiliency
  6. Start a gratitude journal
    • Spend 10-15 minutes a day thinking and writing down for what you are grateful

With your mind better prepared to address adversity, you are now ready to take action.  Consider the following next steps.

  1. Set realistic goals, breaking them down into smaller goals.
  2. Celebrate achievements of the smaller milestones that build to the final goal.
  3. Create a visual representation of goals and place these in various locations in your personal environment.
  4. Get a mentor or coach to provide guidance and support.
  5. Refuse to quit. You can admit frustration but look for other options to achieve a goal.

The bigger picture thought is that adversity is just an opportunity. God has a purpose for your life.  He gives us free will to develop and execute plans, and at times, we take paths that God prefers we do not.  God will never leave or forsake us, but sometimes God closes doors and opens others as a means of guiding us back in the right direction.  Do not succumb to inaction.  When you come to a fork in the road, take it!

144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.