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Can Too Much Parental Involvement Be Bad?

by Kay Ireland

As a parent, you want what's best for your child, which can sometimes mean shielding him from negative experiences, making what you feel are the best choices for him and stepping in when you think he needs help. While you obviously have to be involved with younger children, not giving your child room to roam, make decisions and experience the entire spectrum of emotions could do way more harm than good. Consider some of the downsides to overparenting before you overstep your parental bounds.

Helicopter Parenting

The term "helicopter parent" has been coined to categorize parents who tend to hover over their children. While keeping tabs on your kid is always a good idea, the idea of "overparenting," or overstepping your role as a parent, protector and provider can result in negative consequences. In fact, in "Psychology Today," therapist Lisa Firestone calls the phenomenon the "abuse of overparenting," suggesting that the behavior can be so detrimental that it is in fact abusive. By understanding how your restrictive behavior hurts your child, you can evaluate your parenting strategy to ensure your family isn't affected.

Confidence and Self-Esteem

Children don't always make the right decision, which is why parents often feel the need to step in and protect their kids from the consequences of their choices. But removing choice from your child altogether can hurt his confidence. After all, he needs to make good choices as well as bad to learn the difference and learn to trust his own judgement. If you're the one who makes all of his choices, he doesn't get the chance to grow his self-confidence and self-esteem over time.

Anxiety and Depression

"Psychology Today" notes that helicopter parenting can foster anxiety in children. Too much parental involvement can make your child constantly feel like she has to be perfect to fulfill your expectations of her. Making a mistake, making the wrong choice and being perfect all the time can cause her to feel the pressure of having to please you 24/7. The result can be clinical anxiety and even depression, since no child can be perfect all the time.

Autonomy

A child can hardly carve his way in the world when an overly-involved parent won't let him have his own experiences. Choosing your child's extracurricular activities, micromanaging play dates, solving social problems, doing his homework and being nosey or intrusive can turn your child into a parrot who only knows what he's been taught to like. He misses out on developing his own habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes when instead, he's pressured to conform to your standards and interests, however well-intentioned they may be.

Overindulgence and Entitlement

Some parents who are too involved tend to spoil their children, shielding them from anything negative and giving them every advantage possible. While doting on your child and wanting the best for her is only natural, going to bat for her to remove consequences, allowing her to have anything she wants and skipping over discipline to save her feelings could result in your raising a spoiled, entitled and overindulged child, teen and eventually, adult. Negative experiences and conflict management are hard lessons for a child to learn, but they're important for character development.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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