In an age where parents do not just have one or two children, but even within extended families, the children are growing up with fewer cousins, it is imaginable for parents to be over-possessive. Often, along with the parents, the grandparents also pile on the child and restrict the child’s freedom and natural impulses in a bid for any possible injury. Then there is the assumption that the child is still young and has his/ her entire life to learn/do these things.
The first ten years of any child’s life are when they absorb information faster, cultivate habits easily, and learn new skills quickly. It is also the time when they quickly overcome disappointments and fears. When parents shield their children from competition or ingrain fear in them about the consequences of taking risks, the child’s natural abilities are stifled.
Shaping the child’s personality
When parents restrict the child’s opportunity to participate in competitions, go out to play, or praise them for simple things, they send a mixed signal to the child. While on the one hand, parents are attesting their affection toward the child, on the other hand, they are showing a lack of confidence in the child’s ability to succeed. In such an environment, students can’t learn openly and cannot explore their talents.
Strictness also stifles physical and mental growth
While an over-indulgent parent stifles a child’s creativity and growth, so does a strict parent. When parents become strict disciplinarians, expecting the child to proscribe to their laid down rules and ideas of perfection, the child grows in perpetual fear. The fear of punishment can sink the child into an air of tension the moment the parent enters the room. Even if they consistently excel in their academics, and even manage to do well in their career, the effects of a strict upbringing are evident in them and may affect them mentally and socially.
Making children over-competitive or indifferent
When parents pressure their children, whether it is out of over-protectiveness or through strict control, the child does not have the space to explore their interests. it is important to find the fine line between being over-competitive or indifferent towards the child’s activities. As parents, it is important to encourage participation and motivate the child to give their best, rather than fixate on winning. However, being indifferent to the results of the competition can make the child also care less about the outcome of the participation which could take meaning out of the participation.
The important thing is to find the middle ground, rather than motivate the child with jealousy of another participant’s achievement, their accomplishment, and learning in the competition can be highlighted. Furthermore, they can be guided with approaches that can be taken to better next time and even win.
It gets tougher with teenagers
With younger children, though they are at an impressionable age, they can be controlled. However, with teenagers, parents will either witness meek and submissive behavior that is uncharacteristic for someone their age. This could make them victims of bullying. Or the teenager will become rebellious, and parents and children will have difficulty communicating, which can be detrimental to their long-term relationship too.
As parents, it is hard not to worry about one’s offspring or care about their well-being. One way to control one’s over-protective impulses is by constantly reminding oneself that the child is an individual with independent thoughts and ideas and the capacity to make their own choices. Having regular conversations with children will help parents understand their viewpoint and find a middle ground between each other’s aspirations and expectations.