Could my Parenting Style be doing more harm than good?
by: Julie Sherman
Parenting in today’s world can be very stressful and it’s natural from stressing over developmental milestones, school safety, academic achievement, making friends, and bullying….being a parent is not for the faint of heart. Naturally, parents want to protect their children and make sure they’re safe, happy and healthy.
However, where this can become problematic is when parental anxiety or excessive worry causes us to become overly protective or overly involved in their child’s life with the purpose of shielding them from experiencing any sort of pain, disappointment or discomfort.
Here are some signs of an overly involved parent:
- Doing tasks for children (e.g., chores and homework) rather than supporting their independence.
- Overly involving yourself with children’s teachers and coaches.
- Protecting children from experiencing disappointment or failure.
- Stepping in when children experience conflict rather than allowing them to resolve their own problems.
- Experiencing high levels of anxiety related to child’s learning development, health, well-being, and social relationships with others.
What parents may not realize is this sort of parenting approach may actually be doing more harm than good.
Recent studies by Cambridge University have found that adolescents and young adults are particularly affected by overprotective parenting. “These children have been shielded from difficult things in real life since they were little kids. They tend to be more neurotic and have a harder time becoming independent. They have an overwhelming fear of failure, low self-esteem and poor coping skills to deal with problems in everyday lives.
Here are some tips:
Encourage your child’s independent thinking.
When your child comes to you with a problem, instead of providing a solution or trying to fix the issue, just listen— and be curious. You can brainstorm strategies together, encouraging them to come up with their own solutions and make decisions on their own so they learn to trust their own judgment. Teaching your child how to solve problems will help increase their self-confidence and build autonomy.
Allow natural consequences to unfold.
If your child does something wrong, let them face the consequences of their actions. Unless you believe it’s unfair, don’t interfere. For instance, don’t try to get them out of detention or keep them home from school if they didn’t finish a project. Having children learn from their mistakes is a power learning tool, kids learn that the responsibility for their actions falls on them. In addition, they learn to make better choices next time.
Try to view setbacks as learning opportunities.
Failure and disappointment are a regular part of life from childhood to old age. When children are given the opportunity to deal with setbacks early, within a loving, supportive context, they build skills that will help them later in life. When a child loses a board game, he can learn about good sportsmanship. If children do not secure a spot on the best team, or if they are passed over for a starring role in a theater production, they may learn to deal with disappointment and work harder to try again.
If you’re like most parents, you may struggle with finding the balance between stepping in and protecting your child versus stepping back and allowing your child to grow and learn — a delicate balance that’s continually shifting as your child gets older.
But it’s important to keep in mind that one goal of parenting is to raise kids who have the skills, confidence, resilience to face and navigate life’s challenges.
If you feel that your own anxiety may be impacting your ability to parent or want to learn new parenting techniques/strategies, please know that you can always enlist the help of one of our caring therapists to help you develop these skills. For more information about parenting resources, contact us today.
Written by Julie Sherman
From Julie's bio...
Julie understands that each person is unique and takes an individualized, goal-oriented approach in her work, using a multidisciplinary approach such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or solution focused therapy techniques to tailor interventions to best meet the needs of her clients. Julie works TOGETHER with her clients to develop new coping strategies and skills to implement the changes to make a positive impact in their lives.