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Overprotective Parenting: What it Means, What it Does and How to Overcome it

Believe it or not, overprotective parenting is a bad habit. While it may seem like a good way to keep your children safe and healthy, it can create more harm than good. Typically, the overprotective parent has the best intentions of the child in mind. The goal of the overprotective parent is to keep their children safe from failure, rejection, pain, disappointment, and unhappiness. However, children must experience these things so they understand the world around them.

Side Effects of Overprotective Parenting

Overprotective parenting is also known as helicopter parenting because the parents tend to hover around their children. As children age, the hovering behavior becomes an embarrassment. Typically, an overprotective parent feels very real fears when envisioning their child in any situation. As such, that parent also instills fears, anxiety, and uncertainly into their child. By hovering over your child, you can create the following problems:

  • Inhibition to Learn: Children are unable to learn how to handle different scenarios in their own way
  • Suffocated Happiness: Children are unable to live a stress-free, happy life because they are instead always filled with fear and anxiety
  • Lack of Confidence: Children are unable to accomplish any tasks on their own, which gives them nothing with which they may build their confidence
  • Failed Future: Overprotective parenting may lead to a lack of maturity, which can also lead to failures later down the road pertaining to school and even career productivity

Rather than creating the harmful effects listed above, it is better to take a step back and allow your child to explore the world around him or her.

Overcoming Overprotective Parenting

No matter how extreme you are about ensuring your child’s absolute and total safety, it is entirely possible to overcome overprotective parenting. While you might think it is best to wrap your child in bubble wrap and follow him or her around with Lysol, it is not necessary. Instead, you are going to have to work on letting go and letting your child grow. The following are just some ways you can overcome your helicopter behaviors:

  • Allow Children to Take Risks: Allowing your child to take risks does not mean that you allow them to do anything risky. Allowing your child to take risks means letting your child ride a bike with no training wheels. It means allowing them to participate in a school sport, even if that means there is a potential for injury. It does not mean you allow them to ride a bike or take part in a sport without wearing the proper safety gear. That would be risky.
  • Teach, Don’t Do: Rather than teaching their child how to carry out certain tasks, overprotective parents tend to fulfill tasks for their children. Teach your child how to scramble eggs – age appropriate, of course – don’t do it for them until they are well into their teens. Teach your child how to cross the street safely rather than holding their hand until they are 14 or 15 years old.
  • Take a Deep Breath: Relax your mind and trust in your child’s instincts. If you feel yourself getting anxious, practice some deep breathing exercises. The goal is not to instill fear and anxiety in your child, which means calming your own inner fear and anxiety.
  • Let Them Use Their Imagination: Helicopter parents tend to want to control their child’s surroundings. As such, overprotective parenting can inhibit a child’s imagination. Take a step back and allow your child to find their own source of fun and entertainment. Let them pretend the floor is lava or that the carpet is an ocean full of sharks.
  • Admit Your Fears: Considering that being overprotective stems from your own internal fears, it is best to own up to your fears. By admitting your fears, you can overcome them. Perhaps you will even discover that some of your fears are over-the-top or far-fetched.

Sometimes overprotective parenting is so ingrained into your life that it is a hard habit to break. The tips above can make breaking the habit easier, but some people require additional assistance. Fortunately, therapy can work wonders. A reputable therapist can help you overcome your tendency to hover so that both you and your child can experience a happy, and more relaxed relationship together.

Monica Ramunda is a solution-focused online therapist with an office located in Louisville, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).