Over-Protective Parenting

Having trouble loosening the reigns? In the long run, being over-protective could do your child more harm than good.

From the moment the umbilical cord is cut, children begin those first steps towards independence. While most parents would agree that they want to see their children grow into well adjusted and self-sufficient adults, just as many would admit that letting go is hard to do. Psychotherapist, Barbara Burrows believes the reason for this is because it leaves parents with a sense of loss. “There’s no more pleasing love than that of a preschooler who relies so much on the security of the home for his own feelings of safety. As they grow up, bit-by-bit they relinquish that and bit-by-bit parents feel a sense of loss. The whole process of growing up is kids pushing to be let go and parents struggling to determine when is it right to let them go.”

If you’re having a great deal of difficulty in letting your child become more independent, you may want to ask yourself if you’re being over-protective. Renown parenting instructor and child advocate, Mary Gordon says “a good gauge of knowing if you’re being over-protective or being fair is by asking yourself what are the other kids doing, how are they handling it, is my child like the other children or not? If my child isn’t like the others, how can I help my child to be ready to do things the other children are doing? We don’t do our children a favor by holding them back if they are ready. We do them a favor to make them ready.”

Gordon adds “sometimes you can get a good balance of how you’re assessing things by talking to the child’s teacher and finding out what kinds of freedoms others have or that the teacher sees as appropriate. This will give you a range of what is typically expected behavior of that age group. Over-riding this is the child’s temperament. For example a child with a nervous temperament may not be ready to do something for a year after the child’s age mates are ready.”

Letting go is hard to do. But helping our children find independence in an age appropriate manner will, in the long run, help them grow into independent adults just as nature intended.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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