Are you guilty of overparenting?

by Laura Sussely-Pope

Over parentingWe try to accept that we have to let go -- allowing them to learn to navigate some of life's bumps and bruises on their own. It's hard!

You may have days when you'd love to pop your kids in a giant, BPA-free, safe plastic bubble or at least shield them with bubble-wrap.

You've probably seen a parent who hovers over every school, playground and practice field. Teachers call them helicopter parents. It's a phenomenon that has spread to parents of all ages, races and regions.

Recognizing overparenting can be quite simple when you watch another family. It's much harder to see yourself in that role.

Are you guilty of overparenting?

Experts say that super parenting is really not so super. It's more like over-anxious, over-vigilant and just plain overdone.

Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci, a professor of psychology at Indiana University in New Albany, Indiana says that over-anxious parents raise emotionally fragile kids -- kids unwilling to take risks, fail, and try again. They don't know how to make sound decisions and they aren't equipped to deal with failure and frustration.

Do you have symptoms of uber-parenting? How many of these questions describe you?

✓ Does your pediatrician say "what now?" when you call?
✓ Do you choose your child's clothing every day, or fuss over their choices?
✓ Do you know your child's teacher's personal phone number by heart?
✓ Do you cringe when your parents or in-laws spend alone time with your child?
✓ Does your shopping cart have a cover to protect baby from lurking germs?
✓ Do you break up every squabble at the first loud word?
✓ Do you change the diaper "just in case?"
✓ Do other parents think you're the coach?
✓ Do you check your child's internet report before your own email?

If you answered yes to several of the questions, you may need to consider the advantages your child gains when you practice a more relaxed parenting style.

Carducci says that kids need the opportunity to fail, pick themselves up and carry on. When children do something on their own -– whether succeeding or failing -- they gain the strength and confidence to take risks and make decision in their own lives.

Striking a balance

Love your child for who they are, not what you want them to be. No kid is perfect and nobody, child or adult excels at everything.

Consider the risks. As a parent, you need to keep your child safe. Would failing result in a couple bruises and bumps? That's probably acceptable. Could the situation harm your child? You may need to help out.

Practice stepping back. No toddler learns to walk without falling down dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Every failed attempt brings them closer to becoming a competent walker.

Allow your child to fail. Let your kid experience frustration as they learn to negotiate through life. They will make mistakes. That's okay. It helps them learn.

Pick up the pieces: Kids learn responsibility when they deal with the consequences of a poor choice. Your job -- be loving, present and supportive as you guide your child through the mess and help recognize a better solution for next time.

Do you take laid-back approach to child-rearing or would you describe yourself as super-attentive? How do you gain healthy balance in your parenting?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.