Of course parents want the best for their children in hopes they will develop into happy, healthy, functioning adults. However, are these good intentions leading to not-so good outcomes?
While parents intend to provide their kids with endless love, care and happiness, they can inadvertently overdo it, which leads to children failing to develop the skills that will make them resilient and independent as adults. This can also lead to a lack of self-regulation and increased chance of mental illness.
Contrary to popular opinion, there can in fact be too much of a good thing, as over-parenting can impact a child’s ability to attain employment, succeed at university or hold down a successful relationship.
Toowong-based clinical psychologist and former teacher Dr Judith Locke, of Confident and Capable, has been working with parents for a number of years and says rather than over-parent or over-protect their kids, parents should introduce children to age-appropriate challenges in an effort to teach to them face and overcome difficulty in life.
“Parents need to look at the long-term goals of developing skills such as resilience and self-regulation in their child rather than the short-term impacts, such as them being happy right now,” Dr Locke says.
Dr Locke explores the issue of over-parenting in her book The Bonsai Child, which details the developmental issues it can create and strategies parents can implement to ensure they are giving their children the ‘right’ amount of love. She says the hardest part for many parents is that they don’t pick up that their kids aren’t developing necessary skills until it’s too late. This has led to a later adoption of forced responsibilities, as roles that were once fulfilled at age 18 are being undertaken at 26 or even 30.
You can find out more about over-parenting and strategies to ensure the positive development of your children in Dr Locke’s book, The Bonsai Child, which is available from $33 at most major bookstores or online. Dr Locke also shared her opinions on homework in the current (February 2017) edition of haven magazine.