Having a child puts you in a position of serious responsibility. This is a life that is now in your hands and it’s your responsibility to make sure that they grow up happy and fulfilled and that they develop fully.
This responsibility is not some burden though, it is something that you will want to do, and as a parent you will be so in love with your child that the thought of any harm coming to them will be incredibly distressing. For these reasons we will all do our utmost to look after our children and to make sure that they are safe and that they grow up to be as educated, polite and accomplished as possible.
That’s as it should be, but the problem is that some parents just don’t know when enough is enough and they actually end up becoming overly protecting and too involved in their children’s lives. This can become too much of a good thing and while the parents have the very best of intentions it can end up causing just as many problems as being too blasé as a parent.
Here we will look at why over parenting is a negative thing and precisely what negative impacts it can have on a child.
One of the easiest mistakes to make is to mollycoddle your child and to be overprotective – to try and keep them completely out of harm’s way and completely guarded and protected from the world. As a result they might be overly concerned about the child washing their hands, they might not let the child go out at night or walk home from school or they might panic a lot about the child.
This can have several impacts on the child. For instance it can transfer the concerns and fears to the child so that they then begin to take on their parents concerns and fears. A parent who was very hot on hand washing for instance might end up accidentally creating a child who was a hypochondriac or who had an obsessive compulsion to wash their hands.
At the same time they might have a child who was very afraid of things and too intimidated by the world to go out there and conquer it. They might shy away from sports activities to avoid getting hurt and they might not go out and make as many friends due to concerns about being out alone or meeting new people.
It can even result in low confidence – as when they come to try something new they will hear their parent’s voice in their head pointing out everything that can go wrong and they will end up thinking they can’t do it.
This will also result in a child who is more sensitive and maybe to their detriment. For instance if you make a big fuss over your children when they fall over and hurt themselves then this will teach them that it is a big deal.
Pain is very psychological and so this can actually increase their sensitivity to pain, and studies have shown this to be true. The more fuss you make over them when they’re young, the lower their pain threshold will be even when they’re older.
Mollycoddling your child in this way will also mean that you will be less likely to go out and experience life for themselves and this means that they won’t learn from their own mistakes the way they should. Ultimately this will result in a child who is naïve and who doesn’t have any life experience and this can end up getting them into trouble. It can result in their having a black and white view of the world, a lack of sympathy for people in more difficult situations and generally a lack of awareness.
This will make them a target of contempt from those children who haven’t had such a sheltered experience and it will mean that they have no ‘edge’ that prepares them for the real world. At school they’ll be more likely to be bullied for these reasons – as they will stand out as unprepared, inexperienced and sensitive; but it also means that when they do end up leaving home and going out into the wider world that they might not survive as well as they should and might end up coming unstuck.
As mentioned this over-protection also results in a child lacking that edge that only comes from experiencing life. This means they won’t have as much street cred and they won’t be ‘cool’ at school. At the same time if you truly do mollycoddle your child then it will be obvious in their dress sense and in their early bed times and lack of partying. All of it will result in a child who isn’t really a part of the school social scene and who is a mummy’s boy or girl and that can make growing up quite hard.
Another common way to over-parent is to spoil your child – to shower them in lavish gifts and to give them whatever they want. You might turn a blind eye whenever they misbehave and take their side in any dispute.
This can feel in the short term like the best way to keep your child happy, but ultimately it won’t result in a happy child and it is actually quite selfish.
All this instant gratification will do is teach them that they can always have whatever they want which will cause them to become spoiled and make them worse at getting on with their contemporaries. At the same time it can lead to over-indulgence and lack of discipline and that can cause them to misbehave at school, or even to break the law as they become older.
Furthermore it can cause them to over indulge in things that might not be healthy and can cause obesity and alcohol problems later on. You need to tell them no, and you need to discipline them.
Meekness/Lack of Individuality
On the other hand though if you over discipline them then you will end up with a child who is very submissive and who doesn’t want to disrupt the status quo. They’ll be respectful of authority to a degree where they lose that individual flair and they’ll be too keen to please you and their memory of you meaning that they don’t branch out and become their own person.
At the end of the day you want to teach them your values and views but you don’t want them to take them all as gospel – there’s no point in a child who is an exact carbon copy of you and you want them to forge their own path.
So sometimes leniency is a good idea, as is encouraging them to question the authority figures in their life.
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