Helicopter parenting has been one of major contributing factors to depression, and the occurrence of severe depressive level has been increasing in college students. Based on self-determinant theory (SDT), previous studies have indicated the pathway between helicopter parenting and depressive level, especially focusing on the roles of basic psychological needs, self-control and teacher autonomy support. But few studies focused on the full model of these interactive factors and the Chinese non-clinical college students.
Non-clinical college students (n = 648), aging from 17 to 28 years old, were recruited as participants from universities in Guangzhou, China, in 2020. The participants were asked to complete five self-report questionnaires, including Helicopter Parenting Scale (HPS), Learning Climate Questionnaire (LCQ), Basic Psychological Needs Scale (BPNS), Self-Control Scale (SCS), and Beck Depression Scale-II (BDI-II).
Results have revealed that basic psychological needs and self-control played a chain-type mediating role between helicopter parenting and depressive scores among non-clinical Chinese college students. In addition, the path between helicopter parenting and basic psychological needs was moderated by teacher autonomy support.
This study reveals a potential pathway of how helicopter parenting influence the depressive level among non-clinical college students in the context of Chinese background. These findings give multi-dimensional (parents, teachers, and college students) indications for reducing the effects of helicopter parenting on depressive level among non-clinical Chinese college students, which will be helpful for improving their mental health. However, this is a cross-sectional study and other factors may also play important roles in this pathway.

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