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Research has shown that parents who constantly run interference between their children and the real world are actually doing more harm than good.

It seems that there are a lot of overprotective parents nowadays. When a child is born, it seems so fragile that it is only natural for parents to feel fiercely protective, but a good parent should know where to draw the line so as not to step into child's individual space. In the long run, it could stifle the child's growth.

Parents need to keep in mind that children do grow up and that they cannot expect their children to hold their hand as they make their way through life. They should accept that scratches, cuts, bruises, and broken limbs are all a part of childhood.

Perfect parents 

Some experts claim that the best kind of parenting is the so-called "smother love”, which means that the parents allow a gradual progression of increasing independence. Of course, this doesn’t mean total independence and discipline, rules, standards and expectations are applied in direct ratio to age. When they are really young, children need a great deal of guidance and control in order, but as they grow in maturity and experience, they are bacoming capable of making more choices for themselves. They begin to deal with the consequences of their mistakes. Most of the experts believe that the parent who tries to protect the child from this process does the young person no favor.

Inappropriate fears – symptoms of overactive parenting

Not  all the fears felt by parents are over-exaggerated but how does a parent know if he or she is being unnecessarily fearful for his or her child’s safety?

Overprotective parents are those who:

  • view every physical activity as being potentially dangerous
  • only feel reassured when their children are under their watchful eyes
  • are more anxious than their children that something will go wrong
  • hover over their children constantly giving instructions
  • rule out all activities that have an even remote possibility of resulting in an accident
  • feel that their children cannot cross a road without being run over or go out alone without being abducted

From the Parents’ Point of View - "We just want what is best for you"

Almost everyone has heard the phrase "We just want what is best for you" during childhood. Most parents really mean it and are trying to accomplish it. Unfortunately the overprotective parents usually go too far and don’t give their children the right to make the decisions for themselves.

Goals of overprotective parenting:

  • Some parents think that their children shouldn’t have to deal with certain things and they are afraid that their child won’t be able to handle it  
  • Other parents think that their children should be perfect so they hover over their children and make sure everything is done right
  • Some parents are overprotective because their parents were and they think that that is how a child should be brought up or they don’t know any other way to raise kids   
  • Some parents may be this way because they don’t want their children to wind up with the wrong kind of crowd   

However, it’s not always the parents' fault. Sometimes even if the parents aren’t overprotective, the child feels the need to rebel and doesn’t want to obey the parents in any way.

Child’s Point of View

Kids often view their parents as old and think that they have forgotten what it’s like to be young and have fun. When parents tell a child that they aren’t allowed to do something it usually sends a message that the parents don’t trust them and that they can’t make good decisions on their own. Parents should know that sometimes their children don’t realize what they are doing is really not good and that they are right in telling them that they aren’t allowed to it. Most psychologists say that behind all this is a child’s wish for their parents to trust that they are doing the right thing and they want the chance to prove that they can stand on their own.

Over-protectiveness with older children

Older children often do not see parental behavior as a product of love and concern, but they rather believe that their parents just do not trust them to be sensible and responsible. Most psychologist believe that these older children can react to their parents’ excessive fear in one of two ways:

  • Compliance - children giving up the idea or activity altogether because they too begin to doubt their capability
  • Resistance - such children react with resistance because they believe that their parents perceive them as being accident-prone and having poor judgment

Are you over-protective?

Here are some questions which should help you see if you’ve been acting over-protective.

  • You rule out activities that involve being away from your child like overnight camps.
  • You rule out physical activities that could result in an accident like rock climbing or horse riding.
  • You constantly worry about the well being of your child to the extent it makes you anxious.
  • You feel secure only when your child is under your watchful eye.
  • You are always helping your child in projects, homework or assignments because you don't want your child getting upset over mistakes or getting stressed out.
  • You get obsessed with getting the right medicines and running helter-skelter for a doctor's appointment making the child feel sicker than s/he actually is.

How to overcome this problem?

Overprotective parents should definitely change their attitude if they want their children to grow up as independent and confident adults.

First step
Parent should admit that he or she has problems with parenting. If a parent suspects that they are excessively protective, they should first consult the other parent to see if these doubts are true. 

Second step
The second step he should take is listen to his child. A normal parent should try to convey to his child that his caution stems from concern for the child’s safety. The child should understand that this behavior is not caused by a lack of trust in the child’s competence.
A parent could discuss the dangers of the activity with the child and advise him what to do in case of an emergency and make judgments based on an assessment of the child’s overall competence and judgment. 

Tips for kids

  • Be honest - tell your parents how you feel. How can they respect your opinions if you keep them all for your self?
  • Always listen to their reasoning, try to understand their point of view.  
  • It is important to address issues one by one. If you think they're being unfair, say so, but keep it calm and sensible. Try to show them why it's unfair by giving examples or evidence.  
  • Always try to meet them halfway. While you live with them, they'll always have a final say, but some gentle bartering can help.  
  • Try to get real
  • Talk to them as much as you can. Let them know that your world is okay and explain to them why you do things the way you do.
  • Try to introduce them to things that you enjoy. Get them online or talk to them about your favorite band, TV-programme or film.  
  • Think what you really want your parents to accept about the way you want to live your life
  • Try spending more time with them, even if it's just eating dinner at the table together and having a chat.  
  • If it gets really bad, a quiet, tactful word might help
  • Act responsibly because you can't expect your parents to treat you like an adult if you still act like a kid.  
  • Realize that sometimes, your parents really do know best.
  • Don't expect your parents' attitudes to change overnight. Slowly build their trust
  • Several researches done on this subject have shown that one of the things pushy parents worry about most is that you will end up not achieving anything. Try reassuring them that whatever direction you choose in life, you'll do it to the best of your ability. If you can show them that you have ambitions for yourself and plans to make them happen, they may stop pushing and start supporting you instead.

The bottom line

Parents should understand that young people have a right to be heard, but there are effective ways to go about making points and there are ways which are counterproductive. Remeber what we said on the beginning - young people who are experiencing "smother love" should study their parents and try to understand their attitudes and motives. These kids should keep the lines of communication open and try to identify the influences which may cause parents to be uptight about some of their choices.

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