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Over Parenting – What Are The Consequences Of Over Parenting For Our Children?

What are the consequences for children of over parenting and overprotective parents?

I have been following a series of reports in my local newspaper about encouraging children to be more independent and adventurous by walking to school. Walking to school? The idea of allowing children to walk to school is preposterous to many parents today – why would this be?

In the olden days, as the children say, women seemed obsessed with housework and cleaning.

While the children were sent outside to amuse themselves with endless play, these women worked at having the best homemade soup bubbling on the stove and creating huge biscuit tins filled with award winning homemade baking while they cleaned house simultaneously.

What’s different today is that instead of worrying about their homes, women instead invest huge amounts of worry into whether their children are up to the mark – this invisible mark which is set by their peers and by consumerism and by which they determine ‘normal’.

It is parenting which has become highly stressful, highly organised and highly competitive.

Back in the day, children were mostly confident and capable about getting themselves to school. Many children were sent out to run errands regularly, often covering miles in their journeys.

Many of today’s parents will tell stories of the long walks to school through rain, wind and storms. Some of these stories can even sound like parodies of Monty Python as they speak about trudging through snow and up hill and down dale!

Recently a new kind of parent has emerged, a parent whose fears tend to be detrimental to the healthy welfare and development of their children. These parents tend to over parent their children.

Media Hype

Over-parenting came about originally through the media when it began to portray stories of child abduction or abuse. Naturally, we all want to protect our children from knowing about this let alone experiencing it.

Media hype on television and upbeat newspaper headlines create a sense that dreadful things happen continually, and just around the corner form where we are living right now!

However, the tragedy of September 11th, with all the subsequent media speculation about terrorism really added to the media induced fears for parents and their children.

I believe that fear produces more fear and today’s media publishes more of what we unfortunately appear to want to read – more abductions, more scaremongering and more child abuse than many of us can handle at one viewing or reading.

Nowadays, parents who allow their children the freedom to roam, walk, cycle and explore are criticised by other parents. Rather than being seen as creating independence in their children, they are seen as parents who allow their children to step into danger.

What is over parenting?

Over parenting comes from the belief that for a child to be happy and secure, he must be protected from unpleasant or sad experiences. It also means constantly protecting the child from the huge and scary world around him.

This is why so many parents drive their children to school even when they are within walking distance and the sun is shining brightly. It also means making many of his decisions for him, taking the rap for any of his mistakes and solving his problems. Mainly, over parenting appears to occur in affluent rather than poorer families.

What are the Consequences?

Over protected and over spoilt children who lack confidence, have a poor self image and are frightened to take risks or confront new situations.

Children who shy away from responsibility, are prone to blame others and who are often fearful and shy or haughty and outspoken. Children who appear emotionally immature for their age group.

How to break the over-protective parenting habit

Over parenting is directly related to a parents’ level of self confidence, both in the world around them and within themselves.

Parents who allow their children to make decisions for themselves, to have plenty of free play time and to explore the world around them, express a level of confidence and trust, both in the greater world and within themselves.

They tend to have a more optimistic attitude and to be bearers of glad tidings rather than doom and gloom. Conversely, they also tell their children the truth when accidents happen and tragedies strike. When a parent displays this high level of confidence, their children learn to be as confident too.over parenting

If you can see that your child expects you to do everything for him including his planning, thinking and feeling, then it is high time for you to break your over-parenting pattern.

Many schools unfortunately collude with the media hype and representations of neighbourhood fears so you may find it difficult to change your parenting style to begin with.

You may find yourself to be the victim of pressure from other parents whose own behaviour will be threatened by your new stance. It may mean that you find yourself alone for a time.

On the other hand, you may find that many parents also share your new stand on media hype and propaganda when you share with them your feelings of guilt and pressure.

Take courage and suggest your children walk or cycle to school if you live close enough.

Crack down on laziness and draw up chore charts to help your children begin a new path towards independence and responsibility.

Allow them opportunities to fail and encourage them to grow a backbone. Encourage self reliance and help them to build resilience.

Believe in your child and show him that you do.

Being a responsive parent – responding to your children’s needs, is not the same as over-parenting, in which you anticipate and take control for them.

If you see yourself as over parenting, I encourage you to take a step back and let them go – to grow and develop and explore and plan and create and learn and make mistakes and fall and get up again.

Helen Williams
Editor Consistent Parenting
I believe that being a consistent parent is both vitally important and totally necessary to ensure a happy family life. However, becoming a consistent parent is rather like trying to push water uphill if we are not consistent within our selves. This website addresses HOW to adopt a firm, clear, consistent parenting approach, while enabling you to enhance and increase your emotional well-being.

Author: Helen R Williams
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