Overprotective Parenting is a common parental error and yet overprotective parenting is a disservice to your child.
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Transcript for Overprotective Parenting:
What do you want more than anything else in the world for your child?
To be happy, right?! Is that what you said in your brain. If it is, you apart of the majority of parents out there. I am here to tell you that although this is natural- it also could be a problem! We have to be careful of Overprotective Parenting.
Why? Because a lot of us take this “wish” for our kids to extremes and the result is: Enabling, Hover parents, and anxiety and stress in our kids AND for ourselves!
I am picked this topic this week because we are approaching the holiday season and this season is especially ridiculed with “expectations and the need to be happy”. So although it is natural to want happiness for your child, you need to step back and consider the consequences.
Let’s break this down a little further. What do we really mean when we say “we want our kids happy?” Well, for most of us- this means we don’t want our kids to experience pain. As a parent, you can step in and help your child avoid physical pain, however, you can not protect them from emotional pain- nor should you want to! Life is full of emotional pain. It is how we live. Having emotional pain and sadness teaches us to be grateful for happiness. If you are trying to prevent your child from experiencing emotional pain, then you are also robbing them of living and learning from it.
One of my favorite examples of this is from Walt Disney’s Nemo. Dory is so wise in the movie when she is talking about Nemo to Marlen. Marlen is Nemo’s dad and a classic hover parent. She says to him,
“You can’t ever let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him!”
You have to let your child experience life and part of that experience is emotional pain. When you think of it that way, you realize that protecting kids from pain is unrealistic. In fact, it is doing them a disservice! The best lessons in life are learned through pain. I am sure that you have had a painful experience in your life and when you recovered from it, you were wiser and better for it. Maybe it was a heartache, maybe you got caught doing something… whatever it was- it was the EXPERIENCE that made you LEARN and then you grew from that experience. As a teacher, I can tell you with all certainty that we don’t learn best from books or theory- we learn from experience.
So is it unrealistic to hope for no pain for our children or to shelter them too much? I am not saying that you let them do whatever they want- yes, boundaries are important, but there is a balance between protecting them and letting them live and make their own choices.
Furthermore, IF it is unrealistic to expect no pain in their lives then we, as parents, are setting OURSELVES up for disappointment and heartache when we try to overprotect them. This is a parenting expectation that you can’t win. So let go of this unrealistic expectation.
I am going to go one step further and suggest that you teach your kids that pain, failure, heartache, and disappointment in their life is absolutely NORMAL. Some of the depression that exists in our young people today stems from unrealistic expectations of how their life should be. With social media only glorifying and portraying the “good” moments- our young people are being manipulated to think that their life should be that good. They should look that good, feel that good, be that happy… If you have signed up for my newsletter, Big Impact, you got my email about this. Life isn’t that great. Lol, Social media influence is stupid and completely fake!
Dr. Shefali Tsabary suggests that as parents we should teach our kids not to gain any self-worth from external success. She says our children should not base any part of who they are on the external. This sounds easy, but it isn’t. We live in a society that gives a ribbon to everyone who participates because we think the ribbon will teach the kid that they are valued on the team. We pack our kid’s schedules with activity after activity because society has told us that they need to be well-rounded, high achievers, and good at everything. How stressful for our young people! This artificially induced pressure is ridiculous! Stop making your kids feel overburdened! It’s ok.
So what can you do about this? Here are your Impactful Parent tips:
- Start by sitting down with your kids and asking them, – how do you really feel about ________ Football, flute lessons, whatever the activities are. Did they pick those activities or did you pick those activities for them? Ask them, If you could quit that activity and try something new, would you? What would you try? LISTEN to your kids. Sometimes we project our likes and desires on our kids (which is a whole different topic for another day) but be aware of the question, “Is my kid doing this because they want to or because they feel like it is expected of them?”
- When they are having emotional pain, here are your dos and don’ts
Don’t: Don’t ask what happened… yet.
Do: Instead, start with empathy. Say something like, I see you are upset. I am just going to sit right here and be with you for a bit. If you want to talk about why you’re upset, I am here to listen. Then just sit and be there. Listen. Validate their feelings.
Don’t: Don’t say ‘You SHOULD have done this…” You should have done that… This turns kids off- especially teenagers. You can process better choices later AFTER they have had time to process their feelings. Give them one thing to focus on at a time. They don’t want your advice at that moment. They want someone to hear them!
Do: Stay calm- no matter WHY they are upset.
Don’t: Don’t get upset yourself and make judgments about the situation. This is really bad. If you start saying stuff like, “I knew that friend was horrible” or getting emotionally charged yourself, they won’t be able to calm down AND you will be digging yourself a hole when they will be friends again with that person next week.
Much like when your child was a toddler and they fell- if you react like “OH NO…. and scream- then they will scream. But if you are calm, then they learn to fall and remain calm. Even teenagers are looking to you for guidance on how they should be controlling their emotions.
Well, thank you for joining me today. I hope my message was impactful to a few of you out there that may be needed to hear that message. You are an impactful parent. Parenting is hard and you got this!