Parents have the best intentions towards their children. You want to ensure that your children are safe, happy, and healthy, and that you provide them with a stable, fulfilling life. It’s only natural that you worry about their safety. In fact, you might find yourself worrying about your children on a daily basis, at least for a moment or two.
These concerns can prompt you to become deeply protective. The instinct to protect your children at all costs is natural. But in the modern world, these essential protective instincts can turn into helicopter parenting. Unfortunately, an overprotective parenting style and childhood anxiety can go hand in hand. Here’s how overprotective parenting can contribute to anxiety in kids.
Your Children Fear Failure
What if your children are always protected from potential mistakes? They will not learn how to deal with failure and setbacks in a healthy way. Instead, they will worry about making mistakes in the first place. This fear of failure can hold your children back from trying to learn new things. They might be worried about looking silly or being embarrassed. This can prevent them from trying activities, reaching out to make new friends, asking questions, or learning new skills.
A Lack of Resilience and Coping Skills
Even if your child tries to avoid making mistakes at all costs, missteps are an inevitable fact of life. But if your child hasn’t learned how to cope with mistakes, pick themselves up, and try again, they will not know how to overcome failure. It can seem counterintuitive, yet learning how to deal with failure is its own accomplishment. Anxiety can prevent your child from gaining these valuable emotional tools.
Difficulty Forming Relationships
When a parent is overprotective, it can limit their child’s opportunities to form new relationships. If they are rarely able to spend time at someone else’s home, or playdate opportunities are strictly limited, they may find it tough to get to know new people. It’s perfectly understandable to have rules around getting to know families before scheduling playdates with young children. But children also have to learn how to handle conflicts and deal with disappointments in friendships. Overprotective parenting can get in the way of these childhood lessons.
If a child feels like their parent is monitoring their every move, and they have little to no freedom in their day-to-day life. They can feel like their only real responsibility is keeping their parent happy. This often means avoiding worrying their parents in any way.
A child might feel like they’re discouraged from bringing up problems because they don’t want their parent to be concerned. They end up internalizing their complex emotions rather than expressing them. They may worry that admitting they’ve done something wrong will only disappoint their parents.
Struggles with Individuality
Sometimes, overprotective parents can cause a child to struggle with developing their own individual identity. As they get older, they might not be able to recognize their own needs, wants, and preferences because their circumstances have been so strictly controlled.
This can contribute to anxiety, especially as they get close to adulthood and have to deal with more mature problems on their own, without their parents physically there to guide them. They may feel anxious about making their own choices and feel exceptionally nervous about facing the consequences of mistakes or poor decisions because they never developed those coping skills as children.
Are you concerned that you might be unintentionally exacerbating your child’s anxiety? Working with a therapist can help you adjust your parenting style. Contact with us to learn more about our therapy services for parents.