As a parent you would always want to protect your child but there is always one question that every parent needs to ask himself or herself. “Are you obstructing or curtailing your child’s potential by turning out to be an overprotective parent?”
What you don’t realize is that by overprotecting your child, you are hindering your child from reaching his/her full potential. It is a bitter truth that overprotective children are more likely to fail and parents need to be cautious to not let this happen to their child.
What does it mean to be overprotective?
The dictionary defines overprotection as “undue or excessive protection or shielding specifically: excessive restriction of a child’s behaviour allegedly in the interest of his or her health and welfare by an anxious, insecure or domineering parent.”
Dangers of overprotecting your child
Overprotecting your child can lead to negative repercussions especially when your kids go to school/college. Some of the dangers of over protecting include:
- Children feel entitled: Children of over protective parents think they can get whatever they want because they are treated that way at home.
- Lack maturity: Overprotective kids tend to depend heavily on their teachers are require higher levels of assistance. This can be a problem in classroom setting where teachers will not be able to give individual attention to each child.
- Health issues: As per a study done by Florida State University in 2016, overprotected children are more likely to fall ill as adults because they have not learned how to manage their health. They were told by their parents when to sleep, what to eat, what not to eat etc. thereby impacting the way the take care of themselves.
- Prone to emotional problems: Since parents overprotected them and managed their emotional outbursts, overprotected kids grow up without knowing how to handle their emotions.
- Easily bullied: Overprotected children find it difficult to make friends easily and are low on confidence making it difficult for them to adjust in a school setting. It also makes them easy targets for bullies and emotional abuse.
How can you avoid being an over protective parent?
Sometimes we as parents do not realise that we are overprotecting our children. Giving them freedom to think and explore can be very difficult for a parent to do, but it is in their best interest to do so. While it is not easy to let go, it is important to keep trying. Here are some ways in which you can help your child become independent and not be an overprotective parent.
Don’t constantly control your child life
Do you feel the need to constantly control every aspect of your child’s life? What they are doing, what they wear, what they eat? Do you feel scared to leave your child unsupervised? Controlling or micromanaging every bit of your child’s life can be very damaging. By micromanaging, you are preventing your child from making their own choice thereby preventing them from becoming responsible adults who can take decisions on their own.
What you can do: Be open and let your child express his or her desires and dreams. Let them pursue hobbies of their choice. For example, leave them unsupervised for a while or let them go for a sleepover at their friend’s house. You may also want to ask them to select their own clothes or a hobby.
Give them chores around the house.
Do you tend to do all of your kids work, even when they are old enough to do it all by themselves? For example, do you keep your child’s toy or books away after they finish playing? Do you make his/her bed or set his/her bag for school? Parents often think that children are always messy when it comes to doing their beds or cleaning their rooms. Kids who are not given any responsibilities around the house are not self-reliant and will not be able to survive when confronted with situations that they are not familiar with.
What you can do: Assign chores around the house based on the age of your child. Small children can be taught to keep back their books and toys in the allotted spot after playing, or to set the table before dinner. A little grown up ones can be assigned grocery shopping or folding clothes etc. You can also allocate a budget for them to spend from. For example, if your child asks you for a toy, give them a budget and tell them that they can buy one within the budget you have specified.
Give them freedom and privileges based on the level of understanding
Based on your child’s ability to behave responsibly, give them more freedom and privileges. Also tell them that the privileges will be taken back if they break your trust. Observe your child and take cue’s from how your child behaves. Is he/she able to handle the freedom given to them or not.
What you can do: Give them space to grow and think. For example, based on how your child is able to cope, you can allow them to go cycling around the park on their own or maybe even spend time with their friends unsupervised. Define boundaries and tell them that they have to stick by them. For example, tell them that they can go out and play but will have to be back home by 6 p.m.
Let them fail.
Do you feel bad when your child fails at something? Everybody, adults and kids alike need to understand that sometimes you will fail and that it’s perfectly ok to fail. In one’s desire to be a ‘perfect parent’, parents tend to blame themselves when their kids don’t live up to their expectations. But the reality is that children need to experience failure to allow them to rise up again. Sometimes the child’s comeback can surprise you. Failures will teach children to work or train harder to achieve success.
What you can do: Prepare your child to face the future. Don’t compare them to their friends or siblings. Instead, help them understand that failure is a part and parcel of life and what is more important is to learn from their mistakes and bounce back.
Don’t smother your child with way too much consolation and love
Do you get upset when your child is hurt and run to console him/her? Do you over compensate them with gifts or goodies when they feel bad? While it’s very important for parents to stand by their children and offer them consolation, parents also need to understand their limits in doing so. Over consolation can turn your child into a weakling and will stop them from working through their emotions.
What you can do: Give them their space. You can always give them a warm hug and talk them through a hurt or a rejection. But help them to deal with their emotions so that they can grow up to be resilient adults.
Don’t pick their friends for them
There is a big difference between knowing who your kid’s friends are and telling them whom to be friends with. By not allowing them to choose their friends, you are curtailing their chances of going out and making new friends. This can also impact the way they behave in social circles when they grow up. Children should never be forced into developing friendships based on your recommendation. Let them branch out on their own.
What you can do: Allow your child to choose their own friends. You might be surprised that they would hang out with some of the best people in this world. Only interfere when it is really necessary because harmful friendships can cause hurt or damage to your child physically and emotionally.
Don’t constantly worry about how safe they are
Are you guilt of constantly tracking every movement of your child? Do you constantly worry about their safety and directly or subtly keep on telling them to be careful, stay safe etc.? Children need to be safeguarded especially around the age 2-9 and that should be a top priority of every parent. But do not constantly say “don’t” and “stop” to your children. It will push them to always think negatively.
What you can do: Understand the difference between what is ‘risky’ and ‘risk. For example, falling off a bicycle is a risk but going on to the road where there is traffic is risky. Teach your child about things that can be risky and help them prevent it or eliminate it completely. For example, tell them that it’s ok to cycle around the park but not outside on the road.
Don’t accompany your kids everywhere and check on them continuously
Are you frequently asking for updates from your child’s teacher? Do you ring many times when your child is at his/her friend’s house? Do you feel uncomfortable leaving your kids alone with your relatives/maid? Sometimes parents do over-dote and that is perfectly normal. However, you don’t have to smother your kids with excessive love and attention. This will only leave the child feeling stifled and will curb their individuality. While you do need to make sure that your kid is doing well at school, maintaining a balance of these kind of check-ins is very important because too much interference can drive your children and others around you insane.
What you can do: Give your child the space they require to grow and develop as an individual.
Every parent wants the best for their child. However, you need to be careful about being overprotective about them as well. You may think that you are protecting them by controlling every aspect of their life, but the truth is that overprotecting can have unhealthy and far reaching consequences.
Allow them to make mistakes, let them fail and enable them to solve their problems. Doing all this requires one to be mentally strong. So work on building your own mental strength so that you can help your kids to grow up into mature, healthy and responsible adults.