The safety of our children is one of the most important things that we’ll ever think about in our lives. Starting a family is a big task, and as soon as you conceive a child or start thinking about raising a baby, then your life will be flipped upside down and you’ll suddenly have a lot of things to think about. Is your house safe enough for your child to live in? Is your neighbourhood the right environment for raising a child? Could the kids at the local schools be a bad influence?
These are natural parental instincts that we all experience when thinking about children. But sadly, there’s such a thing as going too far with your child’s safety and by hindering what they can and can’t do, you’re essentially preventing them from growing and seeing more of the world. There’s no doubt that you are concerned about your child and you want the best for them, but you need to realise when you’re being an overprotective parent and when there are legitimate concerns you should be worried about.
These limitations you put on your children can make them feel isolated from the rest of the world and locked in their bedrooms. It’s important that children experience as much of the world as they can so they can grow used to living among society. But by shielding your children from all the experiences the world can offer, you place them in a bubble that has to burst sooner or later. They might grow up with starry-eyed expectations of the world, they might find it hard to cope when they integrate with their college classmates, and those negative feelings could lead to problems later on in life.
However, the opposite also exists. Child neglect is a serious issue and there are many parents that don’t take their child’s safety or well-being seriously enough. These children are more susceptible to picking up bad habits from their peers, and the feeling of neglect can make them dislike you or get jealous at their friends. This can lead to bullying, they might be alienated from the rest of the classmates, and it can lead to serious development issues during their adolescence.
Striking a balance between being a protective but understanding parent is the key to successfully raising a child that can be self-sufficient in the future. Too much protection and they’ll become reliant on you for almost everything. Too little care and they may grow to feel neglected or be seriously injured when they wander into an accident waiting to happen.
Being overprotective is more dangerous than underprotective
As long as you don’t neglect basic things such as watching your children in the car, ensuring they wear a seatbelt and telling them not to follow strangers home, being underprotective can actually be beneficial in developing your children’s future. Being overprotective is actually a lot more damaging due to the way it inhibits your child’s growth.
For instance, let’s say that you are worried about your child tripping over because they still can’t tie their shoelaces properly. You might buy them shoes with straps, or perhaps you help them tie their laces for them in the morning. However, when it comes to the future, the might not know how to tie their laces and, as a result, never buy shoes with laces or become anxious when you aren’t around. Instead of doing everything for your child, teach them how to do something and, as long as the consequences aren’t too worrying (a fall or a knee graze is nothing to be afraid of) then it could teach your child to be more careful in the future.
Another example of overprotectiveness being an issue is when you start getting involved with your child’s school. For instance, if you feel like the teachers aren’t doing their job correctly and you demand your child to be placed in another class, or if you take school affairs too personally or in your own hands and start to make changes that not only make it difficult for yourself but also alienate your child. There are, of course, times when you should legitimately be concerned with what’s happening in your child’s school, but instead of directly involving yourself, try to take an outside perspective and instead, join a parental group or speak in a calm manner to the relevant authorities.
A time and place to be protective
There are many times when you should give your children the freedom to act on their own, but there’s also a time and place to be protective. To give you an idea of when you should be legitimately concerned, here are a couple of examples.
When putting your children in the car, make sure you have the proper protection for them. If they’re still young and their bodies are too small to make use of a seatbelt, get them child seats and always sit them in the back for extra safety. Teach them not to play with the buttons and locks of the car, and try to keep them entertained on the journey so that they’re less likely to be restless during the journey. Car journeys are perhaps one of the most important places to look after your children because it’s also one of the most dangerous. Human error can easily cause an accident, and the added distraction of your children can make it difficult to drive safely.
The last thing you want to do is contact an attorney such as Sevey, Donahue & Talcott regarding a car accident and compensation, but it’s never a bad idea to prepare yourself for such problems. It might seem overprotective to gather up lots of contact information and read up on articles about what to do after a car accident, but preparation is the key to overcoming adversity and family car safety is one of the most important aspects of parenting.
Another great time to be protective is with the internet. Although we should try and give our children freedom to do what they want, there is a time and place when we need to monitor what they do so that we don’t lead them down the wrong path in life due to bad influences. For instance, you can remove parental restrictions on their internet access. Instead, monitor what they use the internet for by learning how to track their usage and approach them about what they browse when it becomes a concern.
Fixing your overprotective ways
If you’ve previously been sheltering your child and you want to change your ways, then here are a couple of tips you can follow to help your child become a little more self-sufficient.
First, encourage them to be independent because it’s an essential thing in life. It can be small things, such as teaching them how to tie their shoelaces, how to make a drink with the kettle or to walk home from school on their own. The earlier you teach them how to be self-sufficient, the quicker they’ll get used to it. Parents can’t stay overprotective with their children forever because they’ll eventually grow up—they won’t stay small for long.
Secondly, stay calm during important situations where your child is distressed or in pain. If you react strongly towards something like your child tripping over, then try to calm your nerves and act in a relaxed manner. Show your child how to bandage and clean up the wound, and then encourage them to go out and play again if they are up for it. Learning to deal with these kinds of pains and injuries is normal for us adults because we simply soldier on, but if you react by screaming or becoming overprotective, then your children will assume it’s a really strange or worrying thing and that will affect them as they grow older.
Lastly, learn to loosen the restrictions that your child has and give them the power to make their own decisions, even if it means watching them experience failure. Successes happen only as often as failures, and learning to cope with disappointment and picking yourself back up is an essential thing in life that can’t be taught directly. For instance, give your children pocket money but never deviate from the amount you assign them. Tell them if they want to have more pocket money, then they need to do chores around the house. Allow them to spend it on whatever they want, but don’t give them money for trying, only when they succeed. This teaches them the importance of working hard and putting in their best, while simultaneously giving them freedom to do what they want.
In short, being overprotective can be incredibly damaging to your child. Both their future and their current way of living could be negatively affected, and the long-lasting effects will make life difficult for them. It’s much better to be underprotective than overprotective, but in a perfect world you should be neither and learn to balance influencing your child to become self-sufficient and taking care of their safety when it counts.