Of course we want our children to be independent and to be able to stand up for themselves. But let’s be honest: the line between loving and overprotective behavior is often very narrow – thus depriving our children of the opportunity for independence. We’ve probably all been in these six typical situations at some point. This is how you can avoid being overprotective.
NoGo #1 Overprotection: “I’ll take care of that for you quickly”
typical situation: Your child will want to put his shoes on himself, hold spoons by himself, and keep sand toys away from himself. Of course, it doesn’t work perfectly on the first try. We often find ourselves doing the job for the baby right away – ostensibly to help, but mostly because it takes so long or otherwise there’s too much dirt or a mess.
The danger here: With our impatience, we parents prevent our children from understanding or controlling the world. When it comes to youth, it’s about this: I can’t do it. So children lose the desire to do it themselves, have less confidence in themselves and will later seek help from parents, and then usually more and more than we would like.
Tips for more independence
- Allow your child to finish at their own pace and gain their own experience. Of course, this largely cannot be the case. On the other hand, you should inconspicuously remove potential risks out of the way. On the other hand, never try this tip under time pressure. Otherwise, it can only backfire.
- But if you can adapt your time management to a child’s instinct to experiment, go for it. While your offspring need 15 minutes to put the rubber boot on the (wrong) foot, you can still write that overdue email or start preparing meals. Or sitting on the sofa with a book and using the wait as my time.
- Praise your child for effort and progress.
NoGo #2 in Overprotection: “You’re My Princess/My Princess”
typical situation: We parents love to make our children happy. Grandparents often like to give something as a gift from time to time. Lots of toys, clothes, or nursery equipment come together quickly. We mean well and we really enjoy most of the gifts ourselves.
The danger here: The cramped children’s room confuses the little ones, and they lose track of things when there are too many of them. And in the long run they can never learn to maintain order. In addition, they develop an excessive sense of entitlement, which later causes them to become frustrated. Because at the latest when they are in elementary school, but often in kindergarten, our children realize that they don’t always get everything they want.
Tips for sustainable giving
- Set yourself realistic limits. The number of things children really need can be controlled. No kid needs five pencil boxes or winter jackets just because the designs are so different.
- Discuss gifts with the family beforehand. It’s better to have a gift together that brings joy in the long run than ten little things that will be left unnoticed in the corner after a short time.
- Everyone’s second hand: Children’s fashion is often only worn for a short time. So you don’t have to buy everything new, you can actually get most of them at used hardware stores for very little money. Take your kids out there and teach them that used clothing is not a defect, but a practical sustainability.
- Time instead of things: How about visiting a wildlife park or cinema instead of a new Lego game world? Time spent together and new experiences are always a plus for children.
NoGo #3 in Overprotection: ‘I’ll Fight for You’
typical situation: There is a fight on the playground between children of the same age. Instead of letting them take care of it themselves, we sometimes get involved because we think our offspring desperately need help.
dangerBy our behavior, we deprive our child of the opportunity to manage conflicts on his own, to tolerate aggression and to develop and overcome resistance. In the long run, without parents, our child feels weak and helpless.
Tips for visiting the stadium
- Stop and wait now.
- Trust your children. The world of young children is not a perfect, lovable world, most of the time our children know exactly how to react. In addition, they learn from each conflict and gain valuable insights that are urgently needed later in kindergarten and at school.
- Important note: Of course, this does not mean that you should never interfere. If you get hit or bitten, or if there is a big age difference between the kids who fight, you should of course intervene. But here, too, you can wait and see and not immediately grab the situation.
NoGo #4 in Overprotection: ‘I Don’t Need to Cry’
typical situation: We parents make the rules. Our kids don’t want to stick to it. This is normal, it is part of growth. But instead of insisting that we have a rule that says no dessert after brushing your teeth or that washing hands after visiting the playground is a must, we allow ourselves to mitigate baby crying and dispense with the rule. There is no rule without exception, of course. But must we always surrender to the child’s will when tears are falling?
The danger here: If we shy away from conflict with our children or are inconsistent in dealing with the rules, we almost encourage our children to constantly question everything. As a result, meaningful boundaries continue to soften from day to day and we have to constantly rebuild them. An incredibly strenuous cycle starts that isn’t good for anyone.
- Learn to distinguish crying. There are screams of pain and need for protection to which we must always respond and stand up preemptively. And there are screams of anger and protest, which is perfectly fine, but doesn’t necessarily mean weakening our boundaries.
- Develop clear rules that you really stick to. Only then will you pass by. If your rule is: No sweets before dinner, then that applies no matter how angry your offspring are.
- Explain the (new) rule to your child and do it more than once. We adults need a reminder every now and then. If done in a friendly and benevolent manner, it reduces frustration.
- Shows an understanding of tears of anger. Of course, it would be foolish for us adults to forbid something that young people want so much. But talking about and acknowledging feelings is important for our children
NoGo #5 Overprotection: “I’m Too Afraid for You”
typical situation: We parents are always worried. It’s kind of part of being a father. As a result, some then wrapped their babies in cotton wool. They secure it even with the smallest physical challenges like ladders or play equipment. These parents then do not allow supposedly dangerous experiments such as the rather difficult climbing tire on the playground.
The danger here: We parents destabilize our child due to our own insecurities; She no longer trusts herself. In addition, his instincts cannot develop, although young children usually already have a good sense of natural hazards, such as height.
Tips for more safety
- Of course we want to take care of our children and protect them from injuries. But this does not mean that every bruise should be prevented. Stumbling, falling and hitting are a part of childhood and it’s totally normal.
- Remember your childhood. What have you all tried? How much was forbidden? Times have changed, of course, and today we often allow our children to experience self-efficacy in a much smaller radius. But there must be a framework for controlled adventure.
- Try to let go: No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to protect your children from every pain or accident. As a rule, these always end lightly. Our children will come out stronger.
NoGo #6 in Overprotection: “I’m here for you”
typical situation: One of the parents, usually the mother, consciously ignores his own needs. The baby comes home first because he is said to desperately need this extra treatment to make up for the other ‘hardships’.
The danger here: The child cannot appreciate this selfless sacrifice. But she subconsciously suffers from a lack of boundaries.
- Of course, all parents are stuck in baby time, the little one is simply in the first place. It must be so, because babies cannot wait when they are newborns and need to have their needs met right away. But only at this time.
- Even young children can learn to wait and must learn that the satisfaction of their own needs is no higher than that of anyone else. In families with several children, this happens quite naturally, but in families with one child, you should be more active in educating parents about this.
- Agree on times that are for your children alone without any disturbance. So kids can charge up their adorable attention battery and you, too. But one thing is also clear: in their spare time, father and mother can also take care of themselves.
- Raising your children to be independent. This means that you also ask them, in proportion to their age, to help around the house. In this way, the little ones learn to be independent at an early age.
Want to learn more about different parenting styles? The video explains the most important eight of them:
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