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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


The Perils of Parental Overprotection - Understanding a Dicey Topic

By Andrew Loh

Overprotection (The Free Dictionary) "To protect too much; coddle: overprotected their children"

The term "overprotection" is a confusing term especially in the domain of parenting. In principle, overprotective parenting is something that talks of a parental method where the patents try to protect their children in a way that hinder the normal development of children. There is a wide gulf between two technical terms -"protection" and "overprotection". Protection is a simple and natural word in the parenting world. Every animal in this world tries to protect its offspring.

For example, a bird stands by its nest to protect its eggs and baby birds. A tiger has the tendency to protect its cubs by watching it all the time. An Ostrich bird becomes wild and chases anyone who tries to steal its large eggs. Similarly, a mother of a child protects her children from falling from a stair or from being injured by fire. Protection is a God-given ability to prevent something bad happening to the family. Protection is also a mandatory physical need for a parent.

On the other hand, overprotection is the opposite of protection. It is almost like overdoing it. Overprotection is often counter-productive at the best. It is negative too. In fact, parents use it almost daily to protect their children. Fearing that their children will fall and injure themselves, parents often never allow their young children to play on the ground. In some case, parents may never allow their babies to crawl on the floor just because of the fear of them being injured.

Over protecting children is always dangerous and negative because parents will be snatching children's ability to think independently and act individually. Most parents are overprotective of their children. There are many reasons for it. Intense childhood challenges, risks and dangers from peers, friends, neighbors, surrounding environment and other external forces could play a great role in parents overprotecting their children.

In many cases, parents' initial reaction against these situations is to correct the problem, either by trying to protect the children instead of training them to face the adverse situations or by simply whisking away the children from the scene of adverse scenarios. In other words, parents will never give a change for their children to handle the emergent situations all by themselves. What parents usually forget is that any corrective actions they take are stopgap and temporary arrangements and they could be harmful to their children in the end. In case, similar situations occur in the future, children will be powerless to face those critical scenarios.

Overprotective parenting has many potentially negative effects that could harm children's overall development. Here are some of them:

  • Overprotected children are negative, fearful, frightened, scared, hesitant and inferior when compared to normal children.

  • They always rely on their parents for everything.

  • They hesitate to take their own decisions or they are afraid to take some.

  • They are unable to do something on their own.

  • They are always deficient in self-esteem and self-confidence.

  • Overprotected children are too emotional and their emotional IQ is rather very low.

  • In case of some emergency, they will not know what do.

  • In cases of crisis, they may not be able to take any decisions that are life saving to them.

However, many psychologists who handle children believe that overprotected children may develop a symptom known as the "Peter Pan Syndrome". People who display this syndrome usually do not want, need or feel to grow up in their life. They may also have an adult body with a child-like mind. Unfortunately, they may not know how to act as adults or they may not know how to stop acting like children. In effect, overprotected children may fail to develop the necessary skills needed to survive in the harsh life situations. Peter Pan Syndrome can affect both girl and boys. However, it is more pronounced among boys. Overprotected children are often the products of parenting deficiencies. Most parents do not know that they are overprotecting their children.

In the process, they are leading their children to uncertain life situations. Overprotection also results in a lack of leadership among children because they may not know the skills those are necessary to handle people around them. In fact, living in the society needs several social skills among which personal and people management skill is the most important and critical one. Overprotection could also be due to parent's role as overprotected individuals themselves; many of them might have been overprotected, when they were young and immature. Continue to read How Not to Overprotect Your Children - Meeting Challenges and Overcoming Obstacles


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