What Is Overparenting? How To Avoid It?


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What is Overparenting?

The term, Overparenting, also known as helicopter and hothouse parenting or snowplough, was first used in 1969 by Dr Haim Ginott’s in his book Parents & Teenagers by teens, who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter.

However, it was the first decade of the 2000s when the term gained popularity, and in 2011, it got entry into the dictionary. “Lawnmower parenting,” “cosseting parent,” or “bulldoze parenting” are other similar terms.

By Overparenting, we mean a parent’s attempts to intervene and run their child’s life as per their own choices. Carolyn Daitch, PhD, director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit and author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To Guide, categorize them as the kind of parents who are overly focused on their children. “Usually, they take too much responsibility for their children’s experiences and, specifically, their successes or failures,” he said.

Ann Dunnewold, Ph. D., a licensed psychologist and author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, stated, “It means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and over perfecting, in a way that is more than responsible Parenting.” These Over Parenting parents can also be called the “hyper-protective parents.”

In the 90s, these hyper-protective parents hired language tutors for toddlers, rushed to soccer fields at the sight of skinned knees, and walked through calendars full of playdates and rewarding outings. However, as more helicopter-parented kids came of age, teachers and child development researchers observed that Overparenting had adverse effects. Ironically, excessive safeguarding boys and girls for success by their parents did not help develop psychological resilience and creativity in children to overcome the inevitable pitfalls and ice jams along the path to adulthood.
This form of parenting most often applies to parents who help high school or college-going students with tasks of their capacity (for instance, calling a professor about poor grades, arranging a class schedule, managing exercising habits). However, helicopter parenting /over-parenting can be applied at any age.

In a child’s infancy and over-parenting parent might constantly shadow the child, always playing with and directing his behaviour, allowing him zero alone time.

While in elementary school, these parents may ensure their child gets a specific teacher or coach, select the child’s friends and activities, or provide disproportionate help for homework and school projects.

What are the signs of Overparenting?

Parental Temper Tantrums

A common sign of parenting is a sincere desire to provide the best for children. However, that urge can fret into the intra-parental competition, as well as anger and hostility at the merest chance of a child being harmed in any way. Many events have been cancelled because many parents jumped in for the safety of their kids. It is also found that many parents fight on behalf of children – with principals, coaches and friends – they may have crossed the line from the helicopter to (not so) stealth bomber; we may call it over protectiveness.  

Experts recommend that parents must set free their children and enable them to resolve conflicts between peers rather than intervene immediately to de-escalate situations. Child psychologists often advocate allowing boys and girls to learn how to resolve their differences with their siblings and friends on their own instead of constantly relying on parental mediators. In this way, teens can learn to solve their problems. Parents should also select their battles wisely on athletics grounds and in classrooms. Failure to score or win is a valuable lesson for children, while watching a parent yell at a teacher or coach only undermines that adult’s authority. While it is understandable that parents do not enjoy seeing their children disagreeing or disappointed, it is not their job to advocate on behalf of their children. 

Dearth of responsibilities

A lack of age-appropriate expectations and responsibilities is also a sign of Overparenting. Many parents with a mindset that kids must know the household chores expect their child to help them and give some duties that might not be appropriate for their age. Instead of this, parents should help children with homework assignments, allow them to take a back or give up when things go out of their capacity, clean them up and help them do the everyday things they can do on their own. Children often surprise us with everything they can do on their own when they have the opportunity to try. They can also assign a task and let the child know he will be responsible for it. Teach him to do so, tell him that you are here to answer questions and help him, but that he will have to do the work independently. The task will probably be an early struggle, but it will develop skill and a sense of pride over time. Soon, he will be prepared to take on more responsibilities and more complex tasks.

No Time for Traditional Play

Traditional play and downtime are critical to children’s development because they promote creativity and allow your children to rest from the structure and pressures that school and after-school activities bring. If your kids have so many activities planned that they have very little free time, it may be because of Overparenting. The best approach is to strike a good balance of time favouring traditional play and activities such as sports or artistic interests.

Ask your children what they are genuinely interested in and reduce the rest of the activities to allow more free time. Keep in mind whether or not their choice can be the activities for which they excel. It is essential to enable your children to choose their activities outside the home. They acquire independence and allow time to develop their interests rather than spread them too thin. 

Micromanaging Your Child

As a parent, you often assume a “better way” or a “right way” to do everything, unaware that it can lead to the micro-management of each child’s movement. Let your child explore new opportunities, like wearing inappropriate clothes or putting the dollhouse in the washroom if you cannot give up. They are probably OverParenting.

Worrying Excessively

Worrying about your kid’s well-being or safety is a clear sign of you over parenting your kids. For instance, you seem concerned about your child playing on the see-saw at the park, or you cannot stand the thought of your kid walking with friends in the garden; it can be tempting to assume it is because you are highly caring Overparenting your kids.  

Trying to Control How Others Treat Your Child

If you are a parent who frequently quarrels with the teachers, the coaches, child care providers and other caregivers regarding their rules or how your child is treated, this may mean that you have gone beyond parenting. Helicopter parents often call teachers to demand that their child get a higher grade or prevent grandma from allowing children to eat any sugar.

Parenting is a big challenge, and changing behaviour is even more so. It requires lots of patience and implementation of the right strategies and getting great advice from friends and families to raise successful kids.

Here are a few ways and strategies that you can use for better parenting.

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