Adults who over-parent do it with good intent. They try to provide lots of structure, which has value for youngsters. They also pressure children to think, act and feel a certain way, which is also needed at times. However, when these strategies become excessive or extreme, these same adults start to over-parent their children. Contrary to popular belief, over-parenting has predictable and negative consequences.
For starters, over-parenting sends an unintentional and unspoken message: “I don’t believe in your ability to make sound decisions and problem-solve well. You can’t do it on your own; you need me to think for you and tell you what to do.“ Children begin to question their own abilities. They start to trust the voices outside of their head rather than their inner-voice. As time passes, adults who over-parent tend to rob children of the ability to think independently. Although this parenting style is unintentional, it’s just the beginning of the problem.
Adults who over-parent tend to raise children who tend to feel misunderstood, overlooked will likely raise a child who:
- Has difficulty adjusting to change without a structured environment.
- Has difficulty considering the viewpoints of others.
- Needs constant reassurance from others for self-worth.
Here are some compelling reasons why over-parenting is something to avoid:
- Let’s say you want your children to be more responsible with a task. Constantly warning and reminding children what to do, when to do it, and how to do it puts kids down; it doesn’t build them up or help them learn through trial and error.
- Children learn through direct experience, not from adults who are constantly barking orders. So ask yourself this simple, yet tough question: Could your child survive without all of your warnings and reminders? One way to find out is to put that idea to the test and go silent. Go ahead… give it a try… back off a bit and let your little one solve his problems independently. Odds are, he will prove to you that he has a frontal lobe that works just fine for his age (It just doesn’t work as good as yours).
- Let’s say it’s cold outside. Yes, it’s tempting to tell a child, “Put your coat on, it’s cold outside.” The problem? How is your child supposed to figure what he can and can’t handle if you are doing the thinking for him? By the way… what’s the worst thing that could happen if he went to school without a coat? Maybe the discomfort of a chilly day is just what he needs to figure himself out better.
Over-parenting can rupture the parent/child relationship.
It’s not uncommon for these kids to feel smothered. As such, they are more likely to resent their parents, protest their requests, and pull away as they grow and mature.
A Point to Ponder
The road to wisdom is filled with Significant Learning Opportunities, or SLO’s. Ironically, SLO’s typically start with making mistakes and then making the needed adjustments to fix those mistakes. Want to develop a child who is able to think and problem-solve more independently. Give him an advantage in life and avoid over-parenting. Your child’s future (and the harmony in your family) depends on it!
Author: Steve Cuffari For many, Steve Cuffari is the mentor that parents call on to make their parenting style warmer, easier and more affective. He is the founder of inTouch Parenting, a company devoted to helping today's parents calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture families that thrive. read more about Steve Cuffari here...