New types of parents have emerged during the recent decades. From the zealous helicopter parent to the pushy tiger mother, these different parenting styles have one characteristic in common: to overdo. Over-parenting methods tends to make your kids entitled. And according to research, it may be preferable to let them fail and learn to become resilient, instead.
Over-parenting moms and dads like to micromanage their kids' lives, allowing them little autonomy, with a lot of pressure and few opportunities to experience setbacks and frustration. While such parenting behavior may be a demonstration of deep love, there is a problem. By making sure that their kids do not fail assignments or suffer disappointments, over-parenting people are never letting their kids fail and get up again, in this way impeding their optimal development.
Actually, kids facing failure will build resilience, learn to deal with adversity and temperate their emotions. This is crucial to develop those skills from childhood. Most studies on over-parenting have focused on its effects on college students. However, the link between over-parenting and its consequences has been measured when examining kids of all ages. In fact, all preschool and primary school kids of over-involved parents showed more anxiety and shyness, and poorer social relations.
In another research, the children of over-involved parents demonstrated higher levels of stress and depression, lower satisfaction in life, a weaker ability to regulate their emotions, a bigger sense of entitlement, as well as more frequent drug use than their peers with less involved parents. And over-parenting has not only negative consequences for the kids: their parents also are more likely to have higher levels of stress and anxiety. Which creates a vicious circle: the kids, picking up on their parents' anxiety, tend to make it their own.
Should parents back off and not get involved in their kids' lives anymore? Not quite. Because research also revealed that kids of involved parents tend to achieve better at school and have better self-esteem and peer relations than kids whose parents are less involved. Indeed, kids of warm and loving parents with high expectations tend to fare better than kids of cool and less demanding parents. The difficulty is to establish the right balance between independence and demandingness. This is what the scientists are looking to find out now: what would be the best degree of parenting involvement.
Most parents want to protect their kids, but they also need to know when the weight of their attention and protection becomes too heavy. Difficulties and disappointment are an integral part of life, from they early years. It's smarter to teach kids how to face and solve potential problems rather than doing it for them. This way, parents can help their kids develop resilience and the capacity to deal with obstacles, today, tomorrow, and for a very long and happy life.
Picture: Children in the park (ChildUp.com)