Are You Overparenting?
Overparenting is so easy to do! I still do it. I have to remind myself, frequently, to stop overparenting. Trying to control the situation, and how it will end up, is not healthy for anyone. It puts stress on parents and also puts stress on the kids.
Yes, keeping our kids safe is important, but teaching them independence and building self-confidence is the key to keeping them safe forever.
Parents are too worried about their child’s future achievements and social life to let kids work through the obstacles in their path. Kids that are reliant on their parents do not have the stamina to be independent. That is not helpful to anyone.
Overparenting for Safety
Parents want to keep their kids safe. There is a healthy way to do that by being a “guide on the side.” Teaching your child problem solving skills is important for lifelong success. Kids are anxious and afraid because parents are more focused on keeping their children safe, content and happy, in the moment, than they are on parenting for competence for future. For example, it is important for kids to try new things, fail and then try again so they build the self-confidence to try new things.
An example of overparenting is the idea that parents know where their child is every second of every day. Obviously, it depends on their age, but we need to allow kids to make choices knowing there will be both positive and negative consequences. This enables them to know that we trust them and also provides them with thinking about how their choices will affect them. It is not easy, but so beneficial in life.
Parents are overprotecting, overdirecting and doing a lot of hand-holding for their kids. These behaviors, as far as kids’ safety, physical, emotional, security, academic, reputation, professional and financial traits need to be owned by the kid. Then when they are adults they will have the self-confidence and skills to make decisions for themselves.
Schools and parents need to work together to show children that we value learning. If we continue to focus on grades over actual learning, test scores over intellectual curiosity and application of knowledge, kids will never be able to apply their strengths and be confident in their own abilities.
3 Things a Parent Can do
1. Make sure to let your kid be a kid on their own. Stop saying we and let your kid be themselves. These are their efforts and achievements. They may have different interests than we have so it is important to listen to what their interests are and allow them to try different things.
2. Create a team of people. Include teachers, counselors, people from church, and possibly people from your neighborhood. The best for our kids in the long run is teaching them how to advocate for themselves. It is best to have your child ask the questions to their teacher or coach. This will help them in life when they have questions or concerns along the way. When we’ve taught them how to raise concerns on their own they will learn to be independent and build more self-confidence.
3. Teach your child the skills to be organized. Be a role model by showing them how you organize your life. This includes things like doing their homework. Help them by giving them the tools to know what being organized means. For homework, find a place and a time that they can work without distractions. Take time to practice and explain why being organized is important.
Giving up Control
Parents want their kids to feel connected and competent and are willing to do what it takes, even if that means giving up some control over their kids’ lives. It is not easy, but necessary if you want your child to grown up to be a successful contributing member of society. Teaching problem solving skills will help to give up control.
I feel we live in an era when parents are compensating for this lack of problem solving knowledge by overparenting. Helicopter parents, mama bears, and participation ribbons are all just a few of the symptoms mentioned by parents and are concepts born out of parental insecurity and fear of failure.
But overcompensating is not helping. Instead, it is creating a generation of children that will expect everything to turn out great, regardless of the effort they provide. Children that are overly dependent on their parents lack the self-discipline to be successful. Dependency is a result of learned helplessness.
Parents need to show that they have confidence in their child’s ability to make informed decisions and learn to problem solve. Overparenting does not allow for that. Kids need to practice making their own decisions at a young age when it is safe and in a safe environment. They need to experience natural consequences. Failing at something will help create the stamina and confidence to try new things.
Some examples are:
- Choosing not to wear a coat outside when it is cold. It is so hard to not make them put a coat on, but trust me, they will want a coat after being outside on a cold day.
- Getting a bad grade because they chose not to study for the test or complete the assignment.
- Forgetting something at home.
- Having a conflict with a friend.
- Losing their phone, clothing or something important to them.
As a parent it is difficult to let go. Believe me I can relate to this… still with my adult children. It feels good after you practice it for a while. It benefits everyone. These may seem silly ,but they do work. Some tools are:
1. Think about the times that you over parent your child/ren. Write them down-maybe choose one or two. When it is happening count to 10 and then rethink what you should do.
2. Say to yourself “Let them do it.” Repeat it as many times as you need to so that you stop before trying to fix or over parent.
3. Reflect on how you felt when they completed the activity on their own.
It might take a while, but it works. The entire family feels better when this happens. And you will notice how your child will feel when they complete the task or advocate for themselves the next time and the next time.
Overparenting is way too easy to do. Remember it will take time and you will need to remind yourself frequently to stop overparenting. Not controlling the situation will be less stressful on you and your child. Yes, keeping our kids safe is important, but teaching them independence and building self-confidence is the key to keep them safe forever.