Tips to Avoid Overprotective Parenting

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As parents and grandparents, we all want our children to be safe. We worry about them and don’t want them to get hurt, deal with hurtful experiences, or even have to deal with stress and strain. But, if we are not careful, our quest to keep our children safe and stress free, overprotecting parenting will actually do more harm to them, than good.

How? Because being overprotective robs our children of the opportunity to develop all the skills they need to be a strong and successful adult. It has a negative effect on their self esteem, sends the message to children that they are unable to handle things themselves, and teaches them to doubt their own decisions because we are always telling them what to do and they are never given a chance to choose.

Being overprotective teaches our children to be fearful, creates children who turn into adults who are incapable of making decisions, standing on their own two feet, or handling rejection. The grow up without learning to evaluate, handle, and navigate life.

The risks we expose them to, because we have been overprotective are actually greater than what we are protecting them from. We leave them vulnerable, unable to handle the bigger challenges that life will throw at them.

So, how do we know if we are being overprotective?

When we start taking over things that our children should be managing on their own, We are being overprotective. Try to rarely or never do anything for your child that they can do for themselves. 

If they can put on their own shoes, let them. If they can feed themselves, allow them. BUT… in every situation, teach them first. Teach them to use the fork and spoon beforehand, opposed to having them use their hands and throw food on the floor. This will require us to be patient and put their best interest before our own.

How can we avoid being overprotective?


First, Keep the end goal in mind. 

As parents, our goal is to raise the next generation of responsible, capable, useful, happy people. It is our job to prepare them to function without us. We are to love them and protect them. To help them gain wisdom as they grow. And although we don’t ever want them to feel pain, disappointment, or frustration, they are going to. We have to accept that, and instead of trying to keep them from ever experiencing real life, we need to teach them HOW to handle real life.

As we parent and grandparent, we should be thinking, “are my decisions helping my child develop the skills necessary to thrive as an adult”?

Second, we need to assess our motives.

Stop for a minute and think about why we are being overprotective. Is it so we don’t have to do extra work?

Because our parents were overprotective?

Because we don’t want our children to face rejection like we felt when we were younger?

Because we are impatient?

Are we seeking power?

Because we don’t trust our child?

Because we are unfamiliar with the situation?

Because we don’t know enough about our child?

I know for me there are times when I become overprotective because I don’t want to do more work. For example, I overprotect and micromanage the kids when they are outside to keep them from getting dirty, so I don’t have to do more laundry. Or I don’t let our 3 year old climb into her carseat by herself because I am impatient. Or I don’t let our older kids get their own cereal, because I don’t want to clean up their mess or spill (that might occur because they are learning). These are all situations where I am overprotecting. I am doing things for them that they are capable of doing themselves. They are not safety issues, which are different.

 

Third, Respect PLAY!

Play is how children learn. It provides the ultimate school room for learning and development. Kids are meant to run and jump and climb and play. It is through play that kids develop. So let them play!

Let them try new things, build forts, get dirty and get in arguments with the neighbors about a game. Let them solve problems without you stepping in. And teach them before hand what to do if they are playing and there is a stranger, or a new situation.

It has actually been found that kids fall and get hurt LESS when they are left to play by themselves, than with parents who are constantly telling them to be careful and jumping in at the smallest sign of danger. 

Avoid over-scheduling kids, so they can have time to play. One, maybe two activities for each child is plenty. Be sure there is unstructured time each day and let them solve their own problems. Don’t tell them what to do, but instead encourage them to entertain themselves. You don’t need to provide a million toys and games. Let them explore the leaves and dirt and rocks and trees.

Kids who don’t play enough, are less creative, more likely to struggle with depression and mental disorders, less empathetic, more likely to struggle with an anxiety disorder, struggle to play with other kids, solve problems, make decisions, etc…

 

Fourth, Teach them the how and why.

For example, guns and swimming pools. Teach them gun safety and teach them how to swim and be safe by the pool. Because they are going to run into both situations in their life and you cannot always be there to tell them what to do. Teach them so they can handle the situations that they will surely encounter.

The key is to warn them (and teach them BEFORE the situations arise, instead of during). That way you are not overprotecting. For example, if you are going for a walk by the river, teach them before hand of the water dangers and how to be safe, but still explore. NOT when they are in the water and you are on the shore yelling at them to “get back here”, “don’t do that”, “too dangerous, come back here right now.”


Bullying – Parents Can Help

It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series with Heather Johnson” here on The Idea Room. I for one, really enjoy all her great tips and advice on things that most of us as parents struggle with. Here’s Heather in her own words…

–Amy

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One of my biggest concerns as a parent is our children being bullied, teased and made fun of. We have all experienced bullying to differing degrees and know how horrible it feels. It is a real problem that will most likely happen to all our children at some point in time.

Studies estimate that almost one in three American school children is either a bully or a victim and that 160,000 children a day skip school because they fear being attacked or intimidated by other students.

As parents the statistics can make us feel helpless. We shouldn’t wait until our child is bullied, or leave it up to the schools to teach them. There is much we can do to help our children avoid, prepare for, and deal with bullying. We need to start our preparations early.
First, we need to realize that bullying comes down to conflict management. OUR KIDS WILL FACE CONFRONTATION in their lives. In school, at the park, in church, in college, in the work place, in their neighborhoods, in marriage, in parenting. Dealing with conflict is a life long skill.
Second, we need to help our children understand that it is never okay to fight. For the most part, nothing good comes of fighting. Fighting is not the answer. When our children are 40 and they have a disagreement with a coworker, they can’t use their fists to solve the problem then. Why would we teach them that is how to deal with conflict now. It is not a skill that will serve them through their lives.
 
That said, we need to teach our children that they stand up for themselves in self defense. They should know that if they need to defend themselves because they are being, or going to be physically attacked, then they defend themselves. And, that if they do have to fight in self defense, that you will understand. They need to know that they always defend themselves if/when things turn physical.
Then, we need to…
Talking to our children young
Waiting until our kids are bullied is not a good time to start addressing the issue. Children who feel embarrassed or humiliated about being bullied are very unlikely to come home and share how they feel. Instead they will withdraw and suffer alone. Make it clear to your children that you are always there to listen, and that you know bullying can happen. Use situations and find ways to bring up the subject and discuss it when they are young.

Role Play (start children young)

Give your children different scenarios and teach them how to handle them. “What do you do if…?” (someone calls you a name, makes fun of you, someone takes your lunch, someone hits you). Go through each situation and teach them what to say and do. It will empower them, and when they are faced with the bully they wont be as intimidated because they will have had experience and practiced what to do.
Role play simple verbal and non-verbal cues…
  • Stand Straight and Tall
  • Keep shoulders back
  • Don’t show emotion
  • Use firm strong voices

Teach Conflict Resolution

We have to teach our children how to deal with conflict and confrontation. Teach them to manage their anger, listen and communicate. Teach them how to be patient and compromise. This is done through everyday life situations and role play. As conflict happens in your home, between siblings, use it to teach. We also must be good examples of conflict resolution in our own adult lives.

Let kids work things out on their own.

As parents we can be very quick to step in and stop the arguing and disagreements between our children. We decide who we think is entitled to “winning” and then go about our business, happy with ourselves because the arguing and disagreeing has stopped. We need to let our children work out their own disagreements. If we will sit back and watch, they will almost always be able to solve their own problems. These family situations are the perfect place for them to practice working through conflict when dealing with others.

Listen to our children

When our kids try and talk to us, we have to listen. They will drop little hints when there are bullying problems. It is easy to miss the cues when we are not really listening to what is being said. When our kids talk to us, we need to put everything else aside and really be in the moment to listen. Kids will tell us there is a problem long before bullying turns physical, listen to them.
Verbal Abuse is abuse.
Just because the bullying is verbal, doesn’t mean it hurts any less. Verbal bullying leads to the same negative effects as physical bullying: high levels of emotional distress, loneliness, lower self esteem, depression and anxiety. Acknowledge your children’s complaints and concerns.
Give them a hobby, interest, sport, talent, where they can excel.
We should involve our children in healthy activities where they find success. Something they like, that challenges them and where they can excel. Whether it is sports, a hobby or an interest. These activities will boost their self confidence. They teach children how to deal with success and failure, solve problems, deal with others and speak their minds.
Research teaches us that helping your children build their self confidence is one of the best defenses against bullying. 

Model Empathy

As parents, we need to model kind, gentle behavior for our children. They learn by watching us. Be sure that the other adults and kids that are around our children demonstrate empathy as well. We need to teach  our kids to try to understand other’s points of view and to feel compassion towards others. If we are always raising our voices, showing impatience, and arguing, they will do the same.

Dad can make a difference.

Involved dads make a huge difference in the confidence of their children. Dads need to not only model strength and confidence, but sympathy and empathy. If there is not a dad that fills this role for your children, seek out a strong male role model who can help.

Have your kids been bullied? How did you handle the situation? 

Were you bullied as a child, or as an adult?
Have a question or just want to say hello.

 

 

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