Let me tell you a story about the world’s worst Mom! Her name is Lenore Skenazy and she has her own TV show now which, not surprisingly, is also called World’s Worst Mom. She earned that title because she let her 9-year-old travel alone on the subway.
As you can see, she has very definitive ideas about overprotective parents effects and how to raise safe and self-reliant children. Basically, her message is that kids are much safer and savvier than we think. Here are 7 things you need to know to raise kids who are more independent and still perfectly safe.
1. Safety on the streets
Every parent worries about their protecting their child as the Press relentlessly reports child abuse, abduction, school shootings, and other horrors. It is no surprise that overprotective parents effects are having a negative influence on how children grow up and face the real world. According to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, the chances of a child being kidnapped on the street, are extremely rare. In fact, they are much likely to be harmed or abducted by someone they know or by another family member.
The solution is to make sure that your child is mature enough to know the risks and you have guided him or her on what to do and how to avoid any risk. A lot will depend on where you live and also your child’s character.
2. Overprotective parents’ effects are negative
If the parent is ready to prevent the child from experiencing any little setback, minor injury or frustration, and disappointment, then there is trouble ahead. Anne Landers has summed it up quite well:
“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”
The secret is to give the child the practice and the tools to be able to cope with his team losing, getting hurt or not being able to get what they want immediately. Parents have to be ready to give them support and encouragement and not prevent these things from happening.
3. Allow them to fall and get hurt
Did you know that helmets are now sold for toddlers who are learning to walk? This is ridiculous and another example of overprotective parents effects. It is only by falling that a child will learn to walk. The parents only have to be present to lend support and a helping hand.
Getting hurt while playing? Preventing minor bruises and cuts? Many kids complain that they are not allowed even to climb trees. The National Trust in the UK is encouraging parents and kids to play in the countryside. They can get back in contact with nature and have a great time. They have a list of 50 things kids should do before they reach the age of twelve.
The key to happiness while playing outside is to minimize any risks so that they gain confidence while they get to know the world safely. In one emergency room, nurses were thrilled to treat a boy with a broken arm after a fall from a trampoline. Why? Because it meant that he was not indoors on his PlayStation. He was outside and having fun in the real world.
‘We mustn’t wrap our children in cotton wool, but allow them to play outside so as to better understand the opportunities and challenges in the world around them, and how to be safe.’ – Ed Balls, Member of Parliament, UK.
4. Too much praise is a bad thing
This is all part of the helicopter parenting package. Sharing and oversharing on Facebook. Also, praising your child to the skies for his or her great qualities such as intelligence and prowess on the sports field. These parents are obsessed with the finished product and not on the effort that went into it. Much better to praise a child for trying even if they do not have success.
This is what Stanford University researchers found when they looked at the effects on 1-3 year old when efforts were praised rather than ability. They noted that five years later, these kids were better able to cope with things generally and were certainly more motivated.
5. Keep in touch
There is a big difference in constantly hovering when your child or teen has his smartphone and checking on a regular basis. These are wonderful inventions for health and safety. But you do not have to stay in touch all the time. This is typical behavior of helicopter parents. Dr. Steven Sussman, a psychologist, has called the mobile phone the longest umbilical cord in the world!
Things start to get out of hand when the child uses you as a constant virtual assistant or when you become the bane of their life. There has to be a better way and there is.
Make sure that you have a regular time for calling every evening or every second day to keep an eye. This also ensures that your teen or overgrown child will try to solve their own problems without their parents’ ‘help’.
6. Make independence your goal
That is for your kid, not you! Your role is gradually changing all the time as your children grow up and mature. You will no longer be the micromanager but you will be encouraging them to manage their lives and develop their skills in time management, organization, study skills, and so on. You are also letting them get a bitter taste of what it feels like to fail and also experience consequences of their bad behavior. If you can do that, you have helped them take a giant step towards becoming the self-reliant and independent adult that you sometimes dreamed about when you were a teenager.
7. Allow your kids to fail
Some parents are not going to let their kids experience failure and they take every step to prevent that happening. Helicopter parenting is bad as these kids will never even get to know what it is like to be frustrated, disappointed or depressed. These are important life lessons and if they are not learned in childhood, adulthood is going to be hell for them and anyone around them.
Provided there are no safety issues or risks, it is OK to let a child screw up.
“Could it be that by protecting our kids from unhappiness as children, we’re depriving them of happiness as adults?” – Lori Gottlieb, psychotherapist.