Parental care and love must also have a limit: in excess, they harm both the child and the parent. What does overprotectiveness lead to, and how can we change the relationship with the child that is so familiar to us, yet so unconstructive?
Children undoubtedly need to be cared for, the question is just how much. In overprotective families, parents try to shield their children from all difficulties and dangers, even imaginary ones, which constitute the lion’s share of their fears. Concerns about the child are usually greatly exaggerated, thus depriving the child of the ability to make decisions and overcome difficulties independently.
For example, for a mother who is used to worrying about her child, it doesn’t matter whether the child wants to eat, sleep, or play. The most important thing is what the mother herself thinks about it. Parents do not understand that all people are different, and their son or daughter is a separate being. It seems to them that their child is the same as they are, only a little “unfinished”, therefore, it is necessary to “draw it up” to an adult. What distinguishes such an attitude from a normal, healthy one is that there is too much of everything: care, concern, anxiety, fear. Here are two basic types of overprotectiveness.
Type I: The whole life revolves around the child
It doesn’t matter that there are other family members – the only thing that matters is what the child wants! All of the child’s needs are momentarily and excessively catered to. First, the toddler is flooded with toys, then expensive gadgets, fashionable clothes, in a word – everything he or she dreams of
The overprotective parent is always ready to defend his or her baby from the whole world, and attacks him or her whenever another adult says a word about the child’s misbehavior or signals the need to change the family’s attitude to him or her for the child’s own good.
Type II: No One Asks for the Child’s Opinion
In this type of relationship, the overprotective parent constantly dominates, decides on everything for the child, and acts according to the principle: “I will always be older and wiser than you. Authoritarian pressure of the adult is also expressed in placing excessive, not age-appropriate demands, which the child is simply not able to cope with. The parent does not forgive any failures.
Helicopter parents strive for complete control over the toddler’s life because they consider him to be their property. The child is deprived of his or her own space, cannot keep secrets from the parents: diary, phone, email can be checked and commented on at any time. True, real cooperation in such a family does not exist, because joint action is understood as acting “instead” of the child.
How to stop being overprotective?
Every parent should from time to time look at themselves from the side and assess to what extent their communication style with the child is close to overprotectiveness. And if you find that you are indeed an overprotective dad or helicopter mom, you could use some serious work on your mistakes. Yes, working on yourself is one of the most difficult tasks in a person’s life. Fortunately, there are ways that you can change your relationship with your child.
1. Do you have a habit of not asking your child’s opinion and giving your opinion, or maybe you just give orders? Start asking your toddler more often about what he thinks, what he does, and how he would prefer to proceed on this or that issue.
2. Share your experiences with other parents. This will help you look at the situation from the side, through the eyes of other, emotionally uninvolved people.
3. Make joint decisions with your child. Find areas of daily life where you can ask for help or advice. For example, take your child’s input into account when planning weekends, explaining that in addition to leisure activities, shopping and household chores need to be done.
4. Do something together with your child, but without criticizing or correcting him or her. A good idea is to draw together. For example, mother and toddler together invent and draw the layout of the apartment so that there is room for each member of the family. You can draw on any subject, but in pairs and on a single sheet of paper, agreeing in advance what will be in the drawing.
5. Look at yourself with irony sometimes and don’t lose your sense of humor.
6. Read parenting guides on periods of child development and possible parenting problems arising from them. Don’t be afraid to revise your requirements taking into account the content you read.
7. Take an honest look at your life (relationships, family, dreams and goals) and stop compensating for family problems at the expense of your child. If you find it difficult to do this yourself, seek help from a psychologist.
8. Develop yourself socially, do not deny yourself meetings with friends, fill your time with pleasant activities, remind yourself of something you have long wanted and find time for hobbies.