News

“Are we over-parenting our children”, Good Health, OPC, July 2010.

July 1, 2010

Anna talks to Patricia Flokis from Good Health Magazine on the topic of Over-Parenting.Are we over-parenting our children?

For a happier family life, Give children the right freedoms, says Patricia Flokis.

If we think back to our own childhoods, most of us would be hard-pressed to recall being enrolled in more than one extracurricular activity at once.  If we were bored, we were told to play in the backyard, not escorted to a playground or play date. Our parents didn’t do our homework for us, put more than one toy in the parcel for pass-the-parcel at our birthday party, nor plan their weekends around us. So, why are we becoming super-sensitive to our children’s feelings, fearful of their physical safety and obsessed with doing all we can for them? Here, childhood experts advise just how much ‘parenting’ our children really need, and how best to give it to them.

Why we over-parent…
So why aren’t we following our mumand dad’s more casual approach toparenting, considering we turned out okay?

Clinical psychologist Anna Cohen of Kids & Co. Clinical Psychology agrees that over-parenting can stem from insecurity about how we’ve decided toraise our children. “Whether theychoose to parent the way they wereparented or make a conscious decision to parent differently, sometimes it’snot a good parent/child match,” shesays. “You can then end up withparents who are extremely protectiveand emotionally linked in with theirchild, to a point where it’s almostsuffocating for the child, or parentswho feel they don’t have the skills tomanage problems, so they turn a blindeye to everything.”

“Children observe everything we do,”adds Cohen, “so parents need to modela better way of dealing with their own worries and fears. We want to helpour children become independent by overcoming their own reservations and by building up their self-efficacy – that sense they can do something on their own. Children need to learn to fight their own battles without parents immediately coming to the rescue.  They need to make their own mistakes and learn from them. Parents need to provide love, guidance and security, but we can’t wrap them up in cotton wool. We need to allow them to experience consequences, too.”

Getting the balance right…
If your child asks to ride her bike in the street or climb a pretty large tree, don’t veto the idea outright to save yourself the stress. Ask yourself, ‘What am I teaching my child? Am I teaching my child to be a competent human being?’, says Cohen. “All parents will have different ideas on what’s right or wrong for that particular child at that particular time, but trust is paramount. Allow them to do it gradually. First with you and then without you, when you know they’re trust worthy and doing the right thing.”

In the end, parents should be working towards making themselves redundant, rather than being on call 24 hours a day.