What Is Overparenting? How To Avoid It?

What is Overparenting

Have Conversations from Infancy

Establishing strong communication skills open up a breadth of lifelong opportunities for your child and encourage them as students and leaders in their chosen field. However, fostering this ability does not need to wait until your child says their first words. 

As per a University of Iowa's research, infants can even engage in the call-and-response of everyday conversation. Peter M. Vishton, PhD, director of the National Science Foundation's Developmental Sciences Program, states, "it is like a dance—there is a thing that kids seem to learn around 6 to 8 months of age—the simple move that you take turns talking."

Another joint study at MIT, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania took that correlation further. The study found that children ages 4 to 6 who effectively engaged in conversation back and forth had more activation in Broca's area, a brain section linked to speech production. In addition, these kids with a more active area of Broca performed better on tests covering language arts concepts. You can help your child acquire language faster and promote critical brain development by encouraging conversation, even at a young age.

Think Critically About Their Media Diet

Today's kids are more exposed to screen time. It is often painted the enemy of success, linked to trouble in school, obesity, and less effective social interaction. However, this impact on a child highlights what they are missing out on while tuning in.

For kids, set time limits. Make a balanced schedule of how much media your child may consume and when. As per Common Sense Media's recommendation, keep one to two hours of screen time per day.

Children are more influenced by what they see on the screen, often by celebrity and their way of life, graphic or violent scenes, so you need to show the "truth" about celebrity. Help your children inoculate the unrealistic images of beauty that appear through popular culture. Make them know that celebrities require many stylists, trainers, makeup artists, and photoshop editors etc., to make celebrities look like they do on screen.  Speak of your values and remind them now and then. Model good behaviour and take fun "screen breaks" like going on a walk, performing traditional plays or a short outing.

Teach Them to Value the Process

In an interview, Lauren Schell, Principal, Holy Redeemer Catholic School, stated, "Children tend to achieve the reward quickly, but academic success often involves sustained efforts and delayed gratification." She sees success among students who value the learning process and the mark. To do this, you can plan a routine and define expectations for your child to follow will help them understand the benefits of time management and consistency. Your expectations will become theirs as they mature and see the rewards of their efforts as time goes by, whether they are studying hard for a challenging course or simply doing their work. 

Promote Pretend Play

Pretending is the cornerstone of the existence of early childhood. While playing, they assume particular roles, build out an imaginary world, and invite their friends to participate in the journey they establish; they learn to be more creative, have better long-term communication, and mature their problem-solving skills.

While you will think back on these times as sweet moments of nostalgia in the future, the mental development that your child experiences while pretending to play will follow them throughout their lives. After all, it is a child's work to play.

Build a Support System at School

As children progress, their worldview expands to hours spent in the classroom with each school year. Their teachers, especially, have a strong influence on their growth, bringing a wealth of experience and professional understanding of the steps and expectations of development and training.

In addition to your superior knowledge of your child and their needs, school and home can work together to help your child succeed as they progress from year to year.  "The skillset of the teachers and staff in a school and the personal knowledge that a parent has of a child's personality and strengths is a powerful combination that benefits all children," says Schell. "When we listen and respect each other's ideas, we form a support system for the child, the family and the school."

Prioritize Your Marriage Over Your Children

David Code, Family therapist and author of To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First, says, "Families centred on children create anxious, exhausted parents and demanding, entitled children. We parent today are too quick to sacrifice our lives and marriages for our kids." He further explains, "The greatest gift you can give your children is to have a fulfilling marriage."

Give Your Children Undivided Attention

Communication is the key, and good communication with your children is vital if you want them to be happy and prosperous. One powerful way to do this is to give them complete and undivided attention whenever they speak to you.

By this, we mean putting aside your works and listening to what children have to say, as it will lead you to respond more thoughtfully and encourage your children to become more communicative.

Have Meals Together as a Family

It is found that kids who have regular meals with their families become more successful in school and almost every area, as explained in The Secrets of Happy Families. These children have larger vocabularies, greater self-confidence, and get better grades. They are also less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, or develop psychological issues. And all because these families frequently have meals together!

Teach your children to manage their emotions

 Research by John Gottman claims that children who can regulate their emotions focus better are more likely to achieve more success than those who do not control their emotions. These children even enjoy better physical health.

To help your children manage their emotions, you should demonstrate emotional self-management yourself, empathize with your children, explain that all feelings are acceptable. Still, not all behaviours are and acknowledge your children's progress.

Teach Your Children to Build Meaningful Relationships 

In their research, Jack Shonkoff and Deborah Phillipsfound that having strong relationships is vital for children's growth and psychological well-being. Children who lack these relationships do worse in school, are more likely to get in trouble with the law and are more likely to have psychiatric problems.

Video Support

 How to raise successful kids?


In this video, Julie Lythcott-Haims talks about how parents load kids with high expectations and try to micromanage their lives at every turn; but, that doesn't work. With passion and wry humour, she, the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford, speaks that parents should stop defining their children's success through notes and test results and advises to concentrate on delivering the oldest idea of all: unconditional love.

What are the setbacks of Overparenting? 

The power of failure

When children learn to overcome failure, they build resilience. They know to handle frustration and regulate their emotions as they should. And children need to develop these skills as children if they are to lead successful lives. Many pieces of research focus on over-parenting and how it has affected university students. However, the link between over-involved parents and negative consequences is found when examining children of all ages. It has been found that preschool and primary age children of overly involved parents tend to experience high levels of shyness, anxiety and poor peer relationships.

In the case of adolescents and university students, they experience the same negative consequences. For example, 16 to 28-year-old students who have helicopter parents were more likely to have low levels of self-efficacy—the confidence people have in their abilities and skills—and poor peer relationships.

Another research claims young people who reported having over-involved parents' experienced higher levels of depression and stress, less satisfaction with life, and less ability to regulate their emotions. Also, a higher sense of entitlement and increased drug use than young people with less involved parents was reported. 

Bad for parents too

Other than the negative consequences of over-parenting on kids, those who over-parent are more likely to experience high levels of anxiety, stress and regret. This has negative implications for their children, who may pick up on their parents' anxiety and make it their own and maybe a reason behind why many university students suffer from anxiety and depression. However, this does not mean that parents should not get in their children's lives. Research clearly shows that children with parents involved parents tend to do better at school, have higher levels of self-esteem, and have better peer relations than children whose parents are not as involved.

Moreover, children with warm and affectionate parents and high expectations tend to do better than children from cold and low-demanding parents. The challenge is to figure out the right amount of love and demand. Thus, the critical issue that the researchers are now trying to establish is the optimal level of parental involvement.

Underdevelopment of the brain

Overexertion implicitly implies that parents make decisions for their children, thus reducing their need to solve problems and make their own decisions. A portion of the brain that manages these components is lodged in the prefrontal portion of the brain. That part of the brain didn't fully develop until 25 years old. However, it's like a muscle, and if you don't allow it to exercise, it won't grow substantially, which means these skills will remain underdeveloped.

The brain is exercised through "doing", which means doing it yourself, failing and falling, and learning to do it better next time. This enhances the connectivity and effectiveness of this part of the brain.

Having helicopter parents could interfere with the ability of a child to develop problem-solving and decision-making skills and competencies that we want our children to have abundant quantities of when they leave the nest so that they can make the most informed decisions in every aspect of their lives and come out as unharmed as possible. As such, by not giving up and by learning and doing better the next time, we hamper the development of the brain and, with it, the many capacities necessary to prosper socially, personally and academically.

Watch this video and assess your parenting skills!

About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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