Red Flag No. 4: Extra Extracurriculars
A fast way to determine whether children are being overparented is to look at their weekly schedules. If afternoons and evenings are packed like sardine cans with sports practices, play rehearsals, language lessons and play dates -- making a kid as in-demand as a corporate executive -- there's a good chance that a hovering helicopter parent is to blame.
Partly due to that trend, family psychologists fear that somewhere in the past 25 years, the value of free time in childhood has been forgotten. A commonly cited study from the University of Maryland, for instance, calculated a 25 percent drop in kids' free play from 1981 to 1997, while homework time escalated 145 percent [source: Ozment]. But all the hours and money spent honing artistic, athletic and academic skills can actually tamp down on children's creativity, since they aren't left with any spare moments to read, draw or imagine on their own [source: Tartakovsky]. By overscheduling children's lives, parents inadvertently prohibit them from developing the creative skill sets that foster problem-solving, resiliency and self-confidence down the road.