As lax of a parent as you may think you will be, everything changes once you actually have a baby. Whereas you may have chuckled at a friend who stopped short of bubble wrapping their home for a baby when childproofing, you find yourself doing the same.
When your toddler stumbles and falls at the playground, rather than telling them to brush it off, you find yourself rushing to kiss boo-boos. When your teenager heads out of the house, instead of telling them to have a good time, you can’t help but yelling out “Be careful!”
Overparenting is normal because as a parent, you want nothing more than to protect your child from harm. That harm may be physical but it also may be mental. We want nothing but good experiences for our children, but this is unrealistic. Your child will run into heartbreak and trials in life. Your job as a parent isn’t to stop these pains from happening. Instead, your job is to help them navigate through the pain and learn to cope.
You may be overparenting if…
You find yourself constantly stepping in to solve your child’s problems – Kids are always learning and they’re going to need help from their parents. Some things they’ll be naturals at but for most activities, they’ll have to practice to become gurus. You can step in and try to shorten this process but you’re doing them a disservice. Whether it’s a squabble with a friend or frustration with homework, if you find yourself trying to fix all of your kid’s problems, you’re probably overparenting. Your child will never learn conflict resolution if you don’t let them sort out arguments by themselves. It will take them longer to learn how to do a math problem if you help them before they have a chance to work through it.
You constantly correct your child – At some point in time, we become sticklers for structure. Everything has to be just right or it bugs us. Contrary to popular belief, everything doesn’t have to be just so, especially if it’s fun. If your child is putting a puzzle together and a piece is upside down, it’s not the end of the world. If your child is coloring an apple orange, their picture will not be ruined. There’s nothing wrong with letting your child know the proper way to do things. Feeling the need to fix everything though gives them the impression that everything needs to be perfect. This is not only a sign of overparenting but can take away all of the fun out of the experience for them.
You don’t give your child responsibility – If you are someone who is constantly waiting for your child to get older before giving them household responsibilities, over parenting might be to blame. Maybe you don’t give your child responsibilities because you don’t want them to make a mess. Maybe you avoid it because you know you can get it done faster. Whatever the case, an inability to trust that your child is capable of performing simple household tasks could be a sign of overparenting. If you’re someone who does assign your child tasks but then goes behind them and fixes it if it’s not up to your standards, the same issue may be true. Assigning your children responsibilities fills them with a sense of pride. Failing to do so or undermining their work by fixing it could have long-term effects to their self-esteem.
You have a hard time saying no to your child – No one likes to say no to their child, but no’s are inevitable. Saying no to your child is a way to set boundaries. Parents who have issues setting boundaries may have these issues because they don’t want to hurt their child’s feelings. If you find yourself saying “how high” when your child says “jump”, you’re probably overparenting.
The first step to stop overparenting is to realize you’re doing it! The next step is really just being conscious of your actions. Now that you realize what overparenting looks like, your goal should be to try to stop yourself when you’re doing it. It will be hard and take practice on your part but it can be done.
In our hope to prevent our kids from feeling pain, we forget that we learn from pain. Our mistakes teach us how to avoid future mistakes in the future. We may think that we’re helping our kids but we may actually be doing them more harm than good when we overparent.