12 Hints You Might Be a Hovering, Helicopter Swim Parent

by SwimSwam 49

July 14th, 2018 Club, Lifestyle, Opinion, Swim Mom

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

My kids are in college and I’m learning that how I behaved as an age group swim parent has a direct relationship to their success or troubles once they left home.

In “10 Signs You May Be a Helicopter Swim Parent,” I wrote about some over-the-top swim parent mistakes. There are also things we do for our kids, that may not seem like a big deal now, but could hinder their development into healthy, happy self-sufficient adults. I heard that our goal in parenting should be to lose our job. When we save our kids from short-term discomfort or failure, we may be hurting them in the long run.

I believe there are stages in child development—and stages in parenting. We must be more hands on when kids are young, and let go step-by-step as they grow. Each child is different and our relationships vary, but we can reflect on what we do daily for our children and what they can start doing on their own.

Here are 12 things we may do around the pool that our kids should take over as they grow. Some we should never do:


We complete our child’s homework, because he’s tired after practice.


We talk to the coach about what our swimmer needs to work on.


At a meet, we find out the heat and lane for our swimmer.


Before school, we pack their swim bag and make sure it makes it to the pool.


We fill the water bottle for practice and bring it along with the swim bag.


We contact the coach to let him or her know vacation plans and schedules.


If our child has a problem with a teammate, we call the parent or talk to the child.


We drive home quickly if a suit or running shoes are forgotten and rush back to the pool.


If our children complain about practice, we immediately call or email the coach.


We tell the coach what events to enter our swimmer in.


We tell our swimmers to talk with their coach, before and after every race.


We wait in line with our swimmer at check-in and tell admin what events our child is swimming.

What other hints do you have for helicopter swim parents?

Elizabeth WickhamElizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

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5 years ago

You order for your 18 year old son when out at a team dinner.

You ask the coach many, many times when they need to arrive for a meet and start planning months in advance.

The swimmer misses many practices throughout the season and has a terrible end of season meet. Mom needs to talk to the head coach about the “situation”.

5 years ago

I am guilty of all these when my kids were younger, except talking to the coach.
My husband is guilty of helping my son prepare his water at 5:00 am before he leaves for practice.
Otherwise I guess we are weaning ourselves from being helicopter parents ?.

5 years ago

you are constantly on USA swimming site reviewing meet results for your child’s rivals and then inform your child of said results and then try to use them to motivate your kid.

seriously number 3 I do that all the time. We swim 10 lanes and how else are you going to find your kid easily. Is taking a photo of the heat sheet too much? At lease I dont write it on my hand in permanent marker.

Reply to  TA
2 years ago

I believe she meant you are getting the heat and lane FOR the swimmer, rather than s/he being responsible for getting the info. Thanks to Meet Mobile or similar apps (when the meet admins. use it) you can now see that on your phone without walking down to the board where they’re posted!