Overprotection: Is my Parenting Motivated by Love or Fear?
Protection comes from love, overprotection arises from fear. When we move through anxiety, our fears are projected and transmitted onto the child, who will internalize them. The underlying message which overprotection transfers to children is that they are not capable or good enough to manage life by themselves.
When parents are overprotective, they overstep their child’s emotional boundaries by wanting to exert control over them. Identifying the actions that come with this will help you to guide your child through love and not through emotional hunger. Here are some signs of overprotection:
· Moving through fear: Keeping your child safe is a priority, but some days you may find yourself constantly saying "don't!" and "stop!" to your child. We want to protect them as long as we can. It feels like we would like to let them grow up in a golden cage away from the real world. However, this is simply not possible. If we check up on children continually, we are likely to suffocate them and start worrying intensely each time they’re out of sight.
· Keeping your child from failing: Fear of failure comes from us, and it’s fuelled by our desire to be perfect, which leads us to think we could fail as parents. However, through thinking this way you could be preventing your child from the opportunity to learn for themselves. Mistakes help us to grow, as failure is instructive. Great lessons are learned from the worst mistakes. Let your child know that your love is unconditional, regardless of their mistakes. I always encourage parents to talk about their own mistakes and explain to children how they learnt from them. Children need to know what responsibility is and how the process of learning through errors is related to that.
· Being over-involved in your child’s daily life and decisions: This happens when you find yourself encouraging dependence over autonomy and exploration. It may sound paradoxical, but when we overprotect children, we don’t help them to build self-esteem and self-worth, and they don’t have the chance to grow with resilience and confidence, which are essential for facing the real world.
· Trying to control your child’s environment and who they choose to spend their time with: It could be a good idea to introduce your child to other children, however forcing them to have a friendship is not helpful. Your child has the right to choose the people who are going to be around them.
You can challenge yourself to move beyond your fears. I invite you to follow your intuition. Take your time; the more you trust in your wisdom, the more you will hear it.