Overprotective Parents

 

Children do not tiptoe through life, they romp, they run, they jump, and they explore. Given this scenario, parents should accept that scratches, cuts, bruises, and broken limbs are all a part of childhood. Overprotective parents unintentionally send out a message to their children that they are incapable of handling things by themselves. In addition, the parents' fears transmit themselves to the children who, in turn, begin to perceive dangers lurking in every new activity and experience.

 

Overprotective with young Children

Parents who constantly run interference between their children and the real world are actually doing more harm than good

Parent's fears for their children's safety, if extreme, can have an adverse effect on their children's confidence and self-esteem. By molly-coddling a child, a parent is only making the child more dependent and inhibiting her attempts to learn to do things by herself. When a child does something on her own for the first time, it is a great accomplishment, even if it is something as insignificant as learning to ride a bicycle. Parents who wrap their children in cotton wool, in a manner of speaking, are denying their children this pleasure. It has been observed that children have fewer falls, tumbles and injuries when left to play by themselves than with parents constantly cautioning them, and ready to leap forward at the slightest sign of danger.

 

Parents who fear that an activity may be risky should warn their children beforehand rather than while they are engaged in the activity. Else, the warnings merely serve to transmit the fear to the children and distract them, leading to a greater probability of an accident.

This does not mean that children are the best judges of the risk involved in any activity or that parents should not be cautious. But how does a parent know if he or she is being unnecessarily fearful for his or her child's safety? Parents who view every physical activity as being potentially dangerous; those who only feel reassured when their children are under their watchful eyes; those who are more anxious than their children that something will go wrong; those who hover over their children constantly giving instructions; those who rule out all activities that have an even remote possibility of resulting in an accident; those who feel that their children cannot cross a road without being run over or go out alone without being abducted are parents who could be said to have inappropriate fears.

 

Curling parents

In recent years, a new term has been invented to describe parents who are seen to be continually overprotective of their children, particularly in regards to their schooling and social relations. They are named so because they are constantly trying to remove all obstacles on their children’s way through childhood, rarely letting them out of their reach.While curling parents may have the best intentions, in reality, they are raising children with few problem solving skills. Children with sweeping parents never get the chance to face disappointment and build up resiliency and particular for the growing, knowing children, the embarrassment caused by this curling behaviour from their parents can be excruciatingIf you recognise yourself as a fear filled, overprotective parent, sweeping methodically in front of your children, do try to get professional help to identify for yourself on what your patterns are based. You may not be able to change your past, but you certainly can make changes for your future and for your children.

 

When irrational fear turn into neurotic behaviour

It is difficult for overprotective parents to admit the reality of their fears for their children. These fears feel very real and are made obvious through statements that often include watch out and /or be careful."Watch out - you'll fall", when at a playground, or "Be careful, you'll have an accident", while riding their bicycles.

 

Overprotective parents envision fear in most situations and by putting this fear on their children they are creating fear filled, anxious, emotionally immature children. Over protective parents create continuous situations from which their children struggle to escape, until eventually there is no escape as the fears have become part of the patterned response for their child's way of thinking. This type of parenting or smothering rather than mothering, is ineffective and fails to develop virtues and values such as responsibility, courage, self esteem, self respect and confidence in your child.

Studies show that when parents expose their children to this neurotic behaviour if often origin from an untreated disorder in their own childhood called Separation Anxiety.

 

It is critically important to catch this disorder when the person is young, and not let it carry on, untreated, to adulthood. Adults with separation anxiety may have had trouble leaving their parent’s home and getting married. In turn, they may become neurotic parents, always afraid to let their children out of their sight. As they age, they’ll experience extreme difficulty separating from their partner, when that time comes. If treated when they are young, they can live full, normal lives. No matter when it is recognized, though, treatment can make a world of a difference for those with this disorder.

 

Encouraging young Children

In order to become responsible, confident, assertive, independent adults, children need opportunities to explore their environment both physically and emotionally without continuous interference from their parents.We can often feel fearful watching our children playing on play ground equipment, climbing, or learning to swim or skate, but this needn't be translated into fear for them.

 

Encouraging them to explore, conquer, climb, and master new activities provides the means for tremendous growth and learning both for them and for us as parents.

Let go and allow your children to fall, make mistakes, experience rejection, feel jealousy and suffer defeat. Watch them grow in confidence, skill, responsibility and emotional intelligence as they learn from all life has to offer them.

Spend quality time with your children on a one-to-one basis, that way you will feel a stronger connection and have a more realistic judgement of their capabilities.

Include them in household chores such as, cooking, tidying up, walking the dog, clearing and setting the table, this will create the feeling of responsibility and contributing to family life.

 

Overprotective with older Children

Older children most often do not perceive parental over protectiveness as stemming from love and concern. They believe that their parents just do not trust them to be sensible and responsible. Older children can react to their parents' excessive fear in one of two ways: compliance or resistance. If parents voice their fears in terms of doubts, e.g. "Are you sure you can do it?" or give them dire warnings of the worst case scenario, it can result in the children giving up the idea or activity altogether because they too begin to doubt their capability. There is a fine line between responsible parenting and overprotective parenting. No one would tell a parent not to protect their child – just don’t over-protect.

Parental involvement is essential for a child’s healthy emotional, social and academic development. But when your love and concern manifest in the following behaviours, you may have overstepped their bounds.

 

  • A willingness to do anything to see your child succeed.

  • Stepping in immediately when your teen is in distress.

  • Striving to make your teen happy all of the time.

  • Needing to be liked or viewed as your teen’s friend rather than a parent.

  • Giving in to your teen’s every demand.

  • Minimizing or justifying your teen’s behaviours.

  • Making demands of teachers, counsellors, friends, coaches and others because the adolescent can’t or won’t resolve their own problem.

  • Getting involved in every aspect of your teen’s life, including academics, dating and friends.

  • Using cell phones, e-mail and instant messaging to stay in constant contact and hover around your child at all times.

  • Doing anything to make sure your teen doesn’t experience hardship, sadness, disappointment, anger or other difficult emotions.

 

How to be less overprotecting 

Overprotective parents should change their attitude if they want their children to grow up as independent, confident adults. Here are a few ways parents can begin to let go and help their teen blossom into a healthy adult.

 

Let Your Teen Fix Their Own Mistakes. What follows naturally from letting your teen make their own decisions is letting them experience the consequences of those decisions. If you want your child to be resourceful and self-reliant, you have to let them work through issues on their own. For example, if your teen hurts a friend’s feelings, it isn’t your job to apologize and mend the relationship. Let your teen realize the need for an apology and take action to repair the damage on their own.

 

Learn to Say No. It is unrealistic to expect your teen to be happy all of the time. If you’re going to great lengths to satisfy their every desire, you risk raising a spoiled teen with a sense of entitlement. Your teen may become accustomed to having things done for them, assuming the rest of the world will do the same, which they will eventually learn isn’t true. They should earn the things they’re given, both material goods and privileges, and should be encouraged to get involved in volunteering and thinking outside of themselves.

 

Teach Your Child Self-Advocacy. When your child was young, you were their strongest advocate. As they grow into a teenager, they should gradually become their own advocate. Teach your child how to work through problems and encourage them to state their needs at school and in relationships, without needing you to do their work for them.

 

Trust Yourself. You’ve spent many years teaching your child important lessons and grooming them for adulthood. Adolescence is the time to put what they’ve learned to the test. Trust that you’ve raised your child well enough to make sound decisions and be there to offer advice when solicited. 

 

Take a Time-Out. Before intervening to fix a problem for your teen, step aside for a while and let the situation play out. Ask yourself how your child’s needs would best be served. By allowing your teen the time and space to resolve an issue and experience the full spectrum of emotions that come with a success or failure, you help your child learn how to manage difficult emotions without escaping (whether through asking for a parent to rescue them, buying new things, using drugs and alcohol or some other quick fix). Give them a chance to realize on their own that everything will be okay. This will help them develop important coping skills. 

 

Learn New Communication Skills. Instead of telling your teen what to do, resolving their problems for them or protecting them from the consequences of their choices, practice active listening. While parents can give suggestions, teens are old enough to make their own decisions and deal with the consequences. 

 

Evaluate the Worst-Case Scenario. When your teen is facing a difficult situation, ask yourself, “What is the worst that could happen?” If the worst-case scenario is hurt feelings, disappointment, anger or any other emotion that people regularly face, let your child resolve the problem themselves. Try to intervene only if your teen is in physical danger or is at risk of severe emotional harm.

 

Let Your Teen Make Decisions. From a young age, kids shout with glee when they discover they can do something by themselves. Whether walking, getting an A on a test or winning a game, kids have a natural desire for independence. Nurture your teen’s growing desire for independence by letting them make their own decisions. Teens who aren’t encouraged to make their own decisions grow accustomed to having their parents make decisions for them. As a result, they never develop valuable problem-solving skills or the confidence that comes from making good choices. While you can be there to offer guidance and advice when needed, your teen is capable of finding answers on their own.

 

Get Help. An overprotective parenting style may be deeply ingrained by the time a child reaches adolescence. The family may be struggling with co-dependency and other unhealthy attachments. In these situations, professional help may be needed to teach parents healthier parenting styles and improve the teen’s ability to cope and make decisions

 

Parental judgement and superiority 

Despite adopting these measures, there may still be certain occasions where a parent will have to deny his child permission to participate in an activity. But this is a parent's privilege and has the weight of experience and superior judgement behind it. What is safe and acceptable for one child may not be so for another. At the end of the day, parents are the best judges of what activities are acceptable for their children in terms of safety. However, the child will realize that while she may be denied this particular pleasure, there will be other activities that will be permissible. What is safe and acceptable will always be a reason for quarrels between parents and children, but the important thing is for parents to realize that sometimes they just need to let go.

TRUST

Bettina Hemmingsen