Are We Over Parenting Our Children?
Parenting Article No. 70
re we over monitoring and overprotecting our kids? “Kids need to feel badly sometimes,” says child psychologist David Elkind, professor at Tufts University. “We learn through experience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failure we learn how to cope.”
How do we encourage our kids to strive for something, have a go, and reach for a goal? It’s not by taking away challenges or sanitizing them against all germs or disappointments. In fact, when we wrap our kids in cotton wool, it seems to make them more vulnerable. Anxiety and depression among young people is on the rise.
Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan has shown through his studies of children’s temperaments, that what creates anxious children is parents hovering and protecting them from every stressful experience.
“I wish my parents had some hobby other than me,” one young patient told David Anderegg, a child psychologist in Lenox, Massachusetts. Anderegg finds that anxious parents are hyper-attentive to their kids, reactive to every blip of their child’s day, eager to solve every problem for their child and believe that’s good parenting. “If you have an infant and the baby has wind, burping the baby is being a good parent. But when you have a 10-year old who has metaphoric gas, you don’t have to burp him. You have to let him sit with it and let him try to figure out what to do about it. He then learns to tolerate moderate amounts of difficulty, and that it’s not the end of the world.”
“Children need to be gently encouraged to take risks and learn that nothing terrible happens,” says Michael Liebowitz, clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. “They need gradual exposure to find out that the world is not dangerous. Having over protective parents is a risk factor for anxiety disorders because children do not have opportunities to master innate shyness and become more comfortable in the world.”
There are times when the parent needs to sit back and let the child take control and responsibility for the situation or issue. They won’t always be there to do the child’s homework, intervene with a dispute between friends or school or take up a dispute when things have not gone as their child would wish.
Remember, the goal of parenting is to raise happy, healthy (in body and mind) independent individuals who can look after themselves and make good decisions on their own. We as parents should be working towards doing ourselves out of a job!
For a complete list of Regional Parenting Service articles go to the City of Greater Geelong website www.geelongaustralia.com.au/community/family/services/article/8cbc84b53070368.aspx