We’ve all seen or been that parent following their child around the playground to make sure they’re safe at all times. Plus you are at hand to help should they slip off the jungle gym and fall. You want to protect your children and that’s as it should be. The intentions of overprotective parents and well-meaning but the consequences are negative, regardless. Here are the signs you’re an overprotective parent and what to do about it.
Negative effects of being an overprotective parent
Worry, anxiety, and depression: Research shows that overprotected children are more prone to anxiety and worry. They are also more likely to suffer from depression in adolescence.
Social anxiety and phobia: an overprotective parent inadvertently conveys to their child that the world is a dangerous, risky place which can reinforce social avoidance. These children have a higher likelihood of suffering from social anxiety and social phobia. How To Overcome Social Anxiety
Fearful of failure: an overprotective parent goes out of their way to immediately rescue their child and make sure they don’t fail. This is why children from overprotective families tend to fear failure, rejection, hurt, and are reluctant to get out of their comfort zones or take risks of any kind. This is also why they are more likely to be indecisive.
Lack coping skills: These children often lack coping skills and strategies. Children need to be exposed to risks and challenging experiences and be allowed to deal with them on their own. Overprotected children are shielded and denied these experiences which leaves them woefully unprepared to deal with challenges as adults.
Signs you are an overprotective parent
Here are a few signs you may be an overprotective parent. You
- Are constantly watching them or checking up on them
- Constantly remind them of danger and scare them with every little thing they do
- Hesitate to see your child struggle and always rush in to help or rescue them
- Control most of the details in your child’s life, e.g. choosing all their friends
- Don’t allow them to do activities on their own
- Do everything for them and fail to teach them responsibility, e.g. making their bed, cleaning their room
- Constantly make decisions for them
- Don’t allow them to have privacy and constantly spy on them or follow them
- Console them too much so that they don’t ever learn how to self-soothe
- Employ yelling as a control tactic
- Constantly remind them of danger
- Want to accompany them everywhere
Steps to managing being overprotective
If it’s looking like you may be an overprotective parent, here are some tips to help you stop.
The first step is to understand why you are overprotective and what anxieties are animating your actions. Common reasons include:
- Parental anxiety: you’re just an anxious type of persona and this bleeds onto your parenting.
- Perceived child vulnerability: parents of children with chronic illnesses or disabilities often exhibit protective, controlling behaviour. They see their children as more vulnerable and susceptible thus requiring more protection.
- Parental post-traumatic symptoms: after a disaster e.g. such as an accident or a fire, if the parent develops PTSD, they may exhibit overprotective tendencies.
- Hyperbolic news media: the news media can paint a scary picture about the world thus heightening parental anxiety.
- Family background: you were raised by an overprotective parent.
- Make a real effort to minimize your overprotective behaviour.
Track your own anxiety
Most overprotective parents are motivated by anxiety and fear. Track your own anxiety and examine what your fears are. Also, find other ways to deal with the anxiety you’re feeling. One way to deal with anxiety may be through meditation and positive self-talk.
Curb some of your behaviour
Make an effort to curb some of the physical manifestations of your anxiety. Think about what you do when you’re being an overprotective parent and try and stop yourself. For example, stop yourself from constantly checking in with your child or reading their journal or controlling their activities.
Teach and encourage them
Encourage your child to make age-appropriate decisions. Teach them life skills and problem-solving. Allow them to make mistakes and give them responsibilities to handle.
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