Overparenting or helicopter parenting is a modern-day problem. We see it in the news at the beginning of the academic year, when school principals informed well-intentioned parents not to show up at school with forgotten books so that their Primary 1 child can learn the importance of responsibility.
With parents being too eager to do it all for their children today, overparenting is a real issue, with many researches revealing that it can result in detrimental effects like poor coping skills, narcissism and a false sense of entitlement when these children become young adults. They become so used to having people do things for them, or even decide on their behalf that it becomes crippling to their overall development. The ill effects of overparenting can even manifest later in life in the form of low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.
In a world of conflicting advice, especially when it comes to parenting, how much attention is too much attention for our children?s good? Do we really need to step away more so that our children can make mistakes and learn from them? The following are some signs that you may be overparenting.
#1 You dictate your child?s choices
You struggle with the thought of letting your child make his or her own decisions. It can be as simple as choosing a sticker from a selection of stickers at a store, or toys that he picks up to play during play time. This habit inhibits your child?s ability to explore new opportunities or make decisions. Instead, we need to allow our child to choose or even try age-appropriate activities that are safe. This way, they can learn increasing independence and gain self-confidence.
#2 You praise your child for everything
Overparenting happens when we only have happiness in mind. We become so transfixed in ensuring that our children are happy and as far away as failure or mistakes as possible, that we set things up or make decisions to reach this unrealistic outcome. But often, it results in disappointment and frustration because this is not how the world is. When you praise your child for the first few times he goes to the bathroom on his own, that is encouragement. But excessive praises can set your child up to require incessant praises to perform a task. They then lack motivation when praises are absent and less accepting of failures in future.
#3 You set strict routines and boundaries
It is true that most children strive on routines. But even so, there is no need to be overly strict about the routines you set. Allow room for spontaneity so that your child can explore in his own right, without being told what to do all the time.
#4 You extend help without being asked
Do you help your child put on his shoes even though he is attempting to do so on his own? He may be struggling with what seems to be a simple task and taking more time than you would like, but when you reach out to help him, you are denying him of the opportunity to do things for himself ? things that he will derive a sense of accomplishment from when he finally gets them right.
#5 You do not give your child age-appropriate responsibilities
Your two-year-old is capable of tidying her toys after play time. When you give your child age-appropriate responsibilities from young, you are allowing him or her to learn the importance of responsibility and nurturing good habits at an impressionable age.
Being involved in our children?s development must not be confused with being compulsive in our approach towards parenting them. The key is striking a balance such that our parenting style emphasises on empathy and guidance over control and micromanagement. We need to realise that we can never make the road ahead of our children smooth, but we can help instill in them resilience and reliant so that they can be better prepared to take on what lies ahead of them.
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