Monday, June 6, 2011

Are You an Overprotective Parent?

As a parent you obviously want to make sure your child is safe from harm. You take precautions early on, as soon as your baby starts crawling and walking. You plug up all the electric outlets, block off all the stairs, lock the cabinets, and hunt for small objects hidden in the carpets. But if you are the type of parent who then hovers over your child even though you have taken all necessary precautions to keep him safe in your home, you may be an overprotective parent.

If your child is in kindergarten and you still hover over her, you definitely ARE an overprotective parent. Why does it matter? She will be safe, right? You can protect her, right? Wrong. As a matter of fact, an overprotective parent can stunt a child's development and handicap him for the rest of his life.

An overprotective parent is uncomfortable when her child is out of her sight. She does not want her to be involved in anything dangerous, even if it's dangerous only in her mind. She will not teach her child things that may result in pain, such as ironing, using the stove, or even a knife. On a playground, she will be ready to catch any fall and will hardly ever have both hands off her child. If her child leaves her homework at home, she will make a special trip back home to make sure the child does not suffer the consequences of not having the assignment. With an older child, this parent will lie to cover up something the child has done to avoid prosecution or legal trouble. See where this is going?

The problem is that no matter HOW much we try to protect our children, we will fail. And in our attempt, our children suffer. Children have drowned right in front of their watchful parents. They have fallen off the monkey bars the second their mom looked away. Horrible things will happen. And hovering over them is not going to make a difference. But hovering over them will keep them from expressing their natural desire to climb, jump, run, and slide because YOU fear that something will happen. Eventually, your fear becomes your child's fear, and he will not want to try new things because he now has a real fear of getting hurt, or even worse, of failing.

When children have freedom to explore and learn and gain independence, they see their own limitations, abilities, and consequences, which are all a part of life. Not allowing a child to fail on his own will turn into an adult who still needs you to bail him out of real, adult problems.
The younger you let your child be responsible for his homework, for instance, the younger he will be when he realizes it's his job to keep up with it and get it turned in. The quicker he gets that there ARE consequences in life, the earlier he will think about them before doing something stupid!

Personally, I don't get not wanting to teach your children things as soon as possible. The quicker they are taught things, the more helpful they are. Children who are not taught age appropriate activities are not given opportunities to gain self esteem in a natural way. Instead, parents feed them false compliments, even though their child really hasn't accomplished anything. These children are often less mature and less developed than their peers.

If you are wondering if you are being overprotective, ask your friends. Chances are, they have already seen it and will be more than happy to tell you. But be ready to hear the truth, and take steps to change what might need to be changed. Your children will be happier, and so will you. If you are unable to stop your overprotective behavior, you might want to consider getting help from a psychologist to help you figure out why.

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