So what message does overprotective parenting subtly offer to the child?
It can range from “you are helpless” to “you deserve to be treated specially” to “you need to fear the world.” Based on nature and nurture dynamic in a specific parent-child relationship, this can land differently in a non-verbal way.
What goes without saying though is that an aversion to exploration can stem from entitlement, apprehension as well as a sense that the parent is more capable of coming up with solutions. And as you can sense, all of these can become habitual and make life difficult for the child as they grow up.
3. Random rebellion
As your child grows up, you might notice them increasingly wanting to do exactly the opposite of what you say. While independence might still be an issue with such children, the need still exists to exert an individualistic voice. Rebellion then becomes a coping mechanism and as a parent, you can take the cue to examine how you communicate with your child.
Overprotective parenting is a classic way to ensure a child does not see what reality is all about – they’re either too afraid to take risks or they take so many risks that life becomes chaotic. The risk-taking behavioral phenomenon is seen more as children grow up and venture into the world. The main reason is over-protection can make children feel controlled and stifled, and at some point, the tension shoots through the roof to make way for excessive sensation-seeking.
In research results released in 2015 conducted on people born in the 1940s to assess their behavior up to the present day, it was found that the negative impact of overprotective parenting is comparable to the outcome of a major loss or bereavement (cited by University College London experts). So how could you help a situation of overprotective parenting or overly controlling parenting, especially if you’re the one who has been causing it?
4. Know that mistakes lead to learning
For a parent who suffers from anxiety on behalf of their child (often as a result of their own upbringing) and goes on to protect or control too much, it is a step away from the usual to see why their child needs to make mistakes to learn.
If you’re that parent, it is essential that you create a safe space for your child to play and express themselves, without magnifying each little aspect of their life and setting control over it. That what you may consider a mistake is in fact part of the natural process to rise, fall, tumble, and learn.
5. Examine your own anxieties
Many resources on overprotective and controlling parenting lay stress on behavior changes one needs to make as a parent. However, when you think of it, unless there is an examination of the root cause, is it really possible to bring authentic changes to the way parenting is done?
Before a parent, you’re a human being and you may need to look at what it is in your psyche that leads you to create over-dependency and fear in your child. Consider therapeutic intervention if you feel like it is too much for you to do this alone.
6. Practice empathy and non-judgment
And when I say this, I don’t just mean towards your child, but also towards yourself. If you’re reading this piece today, it probably means that you’re ready to confront a vital parenting crisis. Just as your child needs space to come into their own, you need some time and reflection to alter the course of parenting you’ve taken so far.
Begin to explore ways of communicating with your child and intervening where necessary, and activate your witnessing side to observe where you might be overdoing it. This can help you tremendously if you don’t your child to be overprotected.
This article is not meant to blame parents and the way they go about this difficult job, but rather to throw light on a subject that in its essence creates fear and anxiety. And if you’re reading this, please know that like a game that has pitfalls and advantages, parenting also comes with its fair share of baggage. Here’s wishing you the best with the changes you’ve been seeking to make.