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Are you an overprotective parent?

Andrea Gogri | June 21, 2006

Check out these three women.

Shivani, 28, is a bright an exuberant young lady who once worked for a private bank but decided to be a homemaker once her son was born. Though the baby is two years old, Shivani prefers to hold his hand everywhere because she's afraid he will stumble and fall.

Alisha, 32, a teacher at a school in Mumbai, will not send her 5-year-old for swimming lessons. The reason: She fears he will drown.

30-year-old homemaker Priya got married soon after college and never worked. She carries her 6-year-old's tiffin box to every restaurant they visit because she fears that her daughter will get sick eating outside food.

All these women come from different backgrounds, are of different ages and have children of varied age groups. Yet they have one thing in common: all are overprotective parents.

Being an OP (that's what we'll name it henceforth) comes naturally to many a parent.

While it is good to be protective, one should know where to draw the line so as to not step into your child's individual space. In the long run, it could stifle your child's growth.

Child psychologist Jinisha Chedda, who manages her own counselling centre Sol's ARC in Kandivali, Mumbai, cautions against this behaviour. "Constant interference from parents deprives the child of the opportunity to explore the world emotionally and physically. This is a must if children are to become confident, responsible and independent adults, " she says. 

You may be genuinely concerned but the more hyper you are about your child, the more stressed out you are going to get. And, the more finicky, extra-delicate and cranky your child is likely to become.

"Being a hyper-concerned parent takes the fun out of parenting and increases stress levels amongst parents as one gets more and more obsessed with their child," says consultant counsellor Mukta Rege. Working at Sinara Education & Career Consultant Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, where she conducts career guidance courses and counsels students, she has had a fair amount of experience in dealing with them. 

Are you being overprotective?

Answer these questions. You will know you are crossing the line when you have responded positively to at least four of them.

1. You rule out activities that involve being away from your child like overnight camps.

2. You rule out physical activities that could result in an accident like rock climbing or horse riding.

3. You constantly worry about the well being of your child to the extent it makes you anxious. For instance, even if your child is eating well, you wonder if the food is right, well cooked, overcooked, if it is easily digestable, and so on and so forth..

4. You feel secure ONLY when your child is under your watchful eye.

5. You are always helping your child in projects, homework or assignments because you don't want your child getting upset over mistakes or getting stressed out.

6. While it is normal for a child to fall sick, an OP gets obsessed with getting the right medicines and running helter-skelter for a doctor's appointment making the child feel sicker than s/he actually is.

7. You always think of the worst that could happen to your child, be it when walking, talking, playing, going to school, eating outside food etc.

8. When your child has got into an argument or fight with another child, you intervene and try to solve it for them.

Get a grip on yourself

  • It is important to identify and tackle your fears as early as possible. You probably need more help than your child! Such behaviour can lead to constant bickering, and in turn create a rift between you and your child as s/he grows older.
  • If you are finding it too tough to mend your ways, seek counselling to nip the habit in the bud.
  • Reading books on how to handle and talk to your child can also be helpful.
  • THINK before you act or, rather, react. Be it an unfinished meal or a messed up living room.
  • Remember, no kid has escaped scraped knees, fractured hands and mosquito bites. It's all a part of growing up. You can also tackle your fear by watching how other parents handle their kids.
  • Be assertive, not hyper, while talking to your child. For instance, if a 5-year-old has a knife in her hand, do not get all worked up and scream: "You'll cut yourself and bleed".

    Instead gently but firmly say, "When you become as old as mummy you can use that, now you can use a plastic one."

Parenting plan for OPs

Age of child: 1-2
Aim: Encourage physical activity

Encourage your child to walk and prevent carrying him/her around. Remember unless your child falls, s/he will never know how to get up.

"Constant carrying around will hamper your child's physical growth; then parents become paranoid about finding the right psychiatrist or physiotherapist to resolve the matter," says Jinisha.

Age of child: 2-3
Aim: Help your child understand things

Instead of issuing orders, try tapping into your child's growing intelligence to help her/him be more cautious.

For instance, if your child wants to put her fingers in a hot cup of coffee, a straight "No" would block her natural curiosity. Instead say things like, " Oh! It is very hot. Hot things can hurt you my love."

After that make her touch the mug briefly or show her how candles, the stove etc are lit to demonstrate the concept of heat. She will remember what you mean by "hot" the next time.

Age of child: 3-5
Aim: Teach personal safety

Sometimes children can be over-friendly and it could be a cause of concern for parents especially in today's world .

When your child is old enough to be alone with people, teach your child basic rules about personal safety such as, "No talking to strangers" or "Don't accept food or chocolates from people you don't know". 

Basically, try and equip your child to take care of himself.

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Share your comments

 What do you think about the story?

Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: OP + OP = Life of hell

No 1 wud understand the pains of being brought up by over-protective n over-possessive parents better than i do, being their only child n from ...

Posted by Shweta

Sub: TOO overprotective

This all you are writing for parents who are OP of their young kids. What about those parents who are over protective about their married ...

Posted by Sadhana Deshpande


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