Helicopter parenting usually gets a bad rap, and this is no exception. A recent study suggests that children who are more controlled by mothers will end up struggling with their emotions, impulses, and schoolwork later on, the Guardian reports. Published in Developmental Psychology, the study followed 422 children over an 8-year stretch. Researchers found that controlled playtime at age 2 often corresponded with less mental and emotional control at age 5, per a press release, while less-dominated kids often developed stronger impulse control and fared better over time. "Children who developed the ability to effectively calm themselves during distressing situations ... had an easier time adjusting to the increasingly difficult demands of preadolescent school environments," says study co-author Nicole Perry.
The study began with mothers and their 2-year-olds having playtime in a laboratory, the CBC reports. Some moms instinctively told their kids which toy to use, how to use it, and how to tidy up when finished—at times sparking the child's frustration or defiance. Those children tended to have less self-control at age 5 when denied candy or given a set time to solve a puzzle. At age 10, they and their teachers were quizzed on topics ranging from depression to academic performance, and negative answers tended to correspond with tighter parenting. "The problem here really is that if you don’t learn skills to self-regulate, how can you self-regulate when you leave the home," says a professor who mostly liked the study. "In a way it is a form of abusiveness—taking this opportunity away from children." (A mother who let her son play 120 feet away faced up to six months in jail.)