7 Results of Protecting

Never does a day go by when we wish for our kids to encounter struggles and problems. We actually want to protect them from such trouble. But we cannot stop challenges from coming to them. It thus begs the question; how do we know when to protect our children from difficulty and when to allow them to struggle and figure things out?

This is a question of when to protect and when not to protect.

Overly protective parenting or shielding children from potential dangers and difficulties leads to several problems. While the intention behind this protection is an aim to keep children safe and secure, it produces mentally weak kids who cannot handle reality.

Here are some things to consider when deciding when to protect and when not to protect:

1. Impeded Independence

Overprotective parenting inhibits the natural development of your student-athlete’s independence and self-reliance. Children and teens struggle to make decisions, solve problems, and navigate challenges on their own if they have not had the opportunity to do so.

TO DO: As soon as they can walk, give them appropriate tasks to accomplish such picking up toys, putting away crafts, and taking dishes to dishwasher. At age 10-12, all children should be washing their own clothes, folding, and putting them away. Your teenage kids can do the yard work and clean the house. You can pay them rather than hire someone to do it. Teach them how then let them do the work. These are life skills they need, and they foster better independence and confidence.

2. Risk Repulsed

Children raised in an overly protective environment become risk averse. This is a huge problem. They may fear taking chances or trying new things. Why? Because they have been conditioned to view the world as a dangerous and scary place. And while this is true to some degree, these are vital life skills – to seize opportunities, take initiatives, and test themselves with new skills.

TO DO: Get your children involved in various sports when they are young - both team and individual sports. Sign them up to sample various things from scouting, art, music, and volunteer work. All these situations will challenge them, generate anxiety, and doubt, and expose their strengths and weaknesses. This will mean they will get hurt and experience trouble, but they gain confidence as they learn to figure it out.

3. Incompetent Social Skills

Overprotected children typically miss out on normal opportunities to socialize with peers and interact with adults. Social skills are crucial for functioning in the world. Looking at people in the eye and carrying on a conversation are essential to healthy development. Being overly sheltered can impede the growth of effective communication and relationship-building skills.

TO DO: Get your children involved in normal everyday interactions early in life. Have them order their food and ask for the fix if it arrives in error. Teach them to look teachers, coaches, and other adult figures in the eye, shake their hand during introductions, and respond with ‘yes Ma’am’ and ‘yes Sir’. Your more introverted child needs to be exposed to different social situations. They need to say ‘yes’ to the birthday party, the school socials, and club events. Allow your kids to have friends over and play dates with other kids at the playground or other places of activity and fun.

4. Mentally Weak & Fragile

Constantly shielding children from potential harm inadvertently generates anxiety and stress. Children get fearful and anxious about the world around them because they have not been given the chance to gradually acquire and adapt to various situations and gain mental strength.

TO DO: Do not shield them from every challenge or difficulty they face. Yes, make sure they are not in an abusive situation. But do allow them to fail, mess up, get into conflict and disagreement and then figure things out. Guide them through these trials but do not do the work for them.

5. Low Self-Esteem

Overprotective parenting leads to low self-esteem in student-athletes. If they are consistently told or shown they cannot handle certain situations on their own, they internalize a sense of inadequacy and ‘not being good enough’.

TO DO: Teach your kids they can figure things out. Again, encourage them to ask questions and support them to take action when they are anxious or fearful in facing someone or a situation. Do not let them stay home from school for a ‘mental day’. Rather, assist them to face their fears. This results in a growing trust in their ability to participate in the moment even if it is rough and gaining the mental belief they need to face the next difficult circumstance.

6. Rebellion

Some children raised in overprotective environments rebel against the strict rules and limitations imposed on them. As they grow older, they seek independence in ways parents often disapprove of.

TO DO: With parental guidance and support, allow your children the freedom to explore their interests. Find ways to accommodate their unique passions. While you may not like nor have picked what they do, that does not matter. They enjoy it or they want to know and learn about their said interest. Allow it!

7. Inability to Deal with Failure

Overprotected children struggle to cope with failure or setbacks because they have not had the chance to experience and learn from smaller failures along the way. This hinders their resilience and ability to bounce back from challenges. This is why involvement in sports is so perfect. Sports naturally provide the environment to fail and grow mentally strong.

TO DO: Sign you kids up for sports! Let them get humiliated and struggle. Provide the support and direction to see them take action and figure things out. Assist them in managing the negative emotions and generating the ones they want through accurate thinking and positive action.

To protect or not to protect

Our job as parents is to prepare our children for reality. Protecting them harms them more than helps them. To address these issues, it is important you as parents find a balance between providing a safe and supportive environment and allowing your student-athletes the freedom to explore and learn from their experiences. Encouraging age-appropriate independence, fostering open communication, and gradually increasing responsibilities can help children develop the skills and resilience needed to navigate the complexities of life.

Kip Rodgers, LPC-S

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