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The consequences of overprotection

Sergio García Gutiérrez, specialist in child psychology

We should not confuse protecting with overprotecting. I have to say that the protection we give our children is vital for them, since when they are small they need us and depend on us for “almost everything”, this is something totally natural and healthy for their development.

I could say that overprotecting a child is going “beyond” covering and satisfying their basic needs and care. It is think for the son, make decisions for the son, solve all the son’s problems. In short, it is to live for the son, when the son is a person who must develop his own personal capacities, if he wants to function correctly in the world.

To give you an idea of the parents who are overprotecting you every day, some don’t realize it, and others do, they are the typical ones who spend all day repeating to their children: “don’t do that, you can hurt yourself”, “you won’t to go to sleep at your friend’s house, because I don’t know that house”, “you will not go on the excursion because the animals can be dangerous” and no and no and no. Obviously, with that attitude they only instill fear in their children and the false idea that the world is a dangerous place.

On the other hand, although it may seem contradictory, these types of parents are very permissive, in the sense that they do not usually set clear limits and rules that children understand and internalize. In addition to this, if the children violate these vague norms, theydo not establish defined consequences “for fear of harming their children”, when the consequences really serve to educate, not to harm.

Neither do they demand obligations or responsibilities that they can carry out due to their age, alleging that “they don’t want to do it”, “they do it wrong” or “the poor thing is very small”.

These are the dysfunctional beliefs of overprotective parents. They think that, by overprotecting their children, they will take care of their self-esteem,they will not damage their mental health because they will not be upset or frustrated and, furthermore, they will be happy children because “they will not lack for anything”. But, on the contrary, they will build people who are fearful, dependent, with low tolerance for frustration, with little or no ability to learn their personal abilities.

I think that what I have exposed makes sense, since, if we have spent our lives warning our children of absolutely all the “dangers”, however improbable or insignificant they may be, that they may encounter in their lives, they will walk the world in fear. to what “may happen”. In addition,if we have never given them the tools to know how to face and solve their problems on their own, they will be unable to face them alone, and may even become dependent on someone who “takes the chestnuts out of the fire”, every time they feel find themselves in a difficult situation.

I emphasize that, if we do not teach them to make their own decisions, to manage their own lives or to solve their problems, they will always depend on someone to do it because, really, they do not know how to do it on their own. This, in turn, will create self-esteem problemsbecause if one perceives that he does not know how to manage life on his own or that he never takes the initiative in anything, his self-concept will unfortunately be that of a “useless” person who always needs help. another by his side.

To make matters worse, since their parents have always made sure that they don’t suffer or get frustrated when they don’t get what they want, giving them almost everything they ask for when they ask for it and minimizing their pain, they haven’t learned to tolerate that Things don’t always turn out the way you’d like, and whether we like it or not, this is reality. 

It may be that, under the shelter of the family, the son feels that he has everything and that the parents are a kind of servants who are at his feet when they need it.

If we are always anticipating to our children what is or is not going to happen to them, if we do not let them make mistakes in order to learn and if we do almost everything for them, obviously we are reducing their learning capacity. If before the child has the urge to urinate, we are already forcing him to go to the bathroom “because it is not going to be that later you feel like it and we will not find a place to do it”, he will not know how to identify his own physiological signals when need to go to the bathroom. And if we don’t let him fall, he’ll never learn what to do and what not to do.

Finally, say that people learn by negative and positive consequences due to our direct experiences,so the need for the child to experiment with the world to learn to manage better in the future is indisputable.



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