Psychology Assignment Paper on Overprotective Parenting Style

Overprotective Parenting Style


This paper discusses the various negative aspects associated with overprotective parents as well as the problems and failures such parents set their kids up for later in their lives. Similarly, the paper examines the various strategies that parents can use to bring up their children with love without being overprotective. The objective of this paper is to provide information to parents that they can apply in bringing up their children and avoid the dangers associated with overprotective patenting style.

Overprotective Parenting Style

1.0 Introduction

Childhood is a very important stage in an individual’s life as it is the time when a person grows not only physically, but also socially and intellectually. Overprotective parents negatively affect a child`s growth and development. In addition, there are numerous problems associated with overprotective parenting style evident both during childhood years and in early adulthood (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006).Overprotective parents require total submission from their kids and prefer forceful and punitive measures of discipline. Section 2 of this paper analyzes the negative effects of overprotective parenting style that include social phobia and behavioral problems and the effects of overprotection on a child`s growth and development. Section 3 analyzes how parents can develop healthy and loving relationships with their children by applying the golden rule of parenting. Section 4 examines what children need from their parents; specifically we analyze how parents can love their children without being overprotective; their role in providing guidance and discipline, and the role of play in parent-child relationship. The final section deals with how parents can develop healthy boundaries with their children; a number of concepts are discussed in this section including respect, motivation, responsibility, and the sowing and reaping principle.

1.1 Definition of an Overprotective Parent

Overprotectiveparentsbelieve in keeping their children in their place by limiting their independence. They formulate a strict set of rules that must be adhered to at all times. They do not permit their children to express their opinions and needs because they see themselves as the people who understand what is good for the child. Overprotective parents implement rules without explaining them in a clear manner. These parents are easy in showing disapproval and anger whenever their children misbehave. With regard to discipline, they tend to be harsh and punitive, viewing their children as persons in need of order and control. They do not permit their children to make independent decisions because they firmly believe that the opinion of their children requires no consideration, and they do not permit their authority or rule to be questioned. Overprotective parents tend to have high levels of control and low levels of warmth (Spokas & Heimberg, 2009). According to Clinton & Sibcy (2006) parents overprotect when:

  • They lie about real life instead of being truthful in age appropriate ways
  • They rescue their kids from everything
  • They take responsibility for things their kids should do themselves
  • They fight their children`s battles or persuade them to avoid certain situations

2.0 Negative Effects of Overprotective Parenting Style on Children

2.1 Social Phobia and Behavioral Problems

            Social anxiety or social phobia is the avoidance or fear of social circumstances coupled with excessive anxiety over the fear of being rejected, criticized or embarrassed. An overprotective child-parent relationship has been shown to be one of the contributing factors to social phobia. Overprotection is characterized by low levels of warmth and high levels of control. In a study by Spokas & Heimberg (2009), the authors found that a child`s recollections of his or her mother`s overprotection was directly linked to social anxiety during their first college semester. This study implies that those students who remember their maternal overprotection are at high risk of suffering increased anxiety when starting college, possibly because of an increased perception of threat or reduced sense of control (Spokas & Heimberg, 2009). In a separate study by Gere, Kendall, Torgersen, & Villabø (2012), the authors found that overprotective parenting style was positively correlated with child behavior problems. In particular, maternal overprotection was found to be significantly high among children with behavioral problems compared to children with anxiety disorders (Kiel & Maack, 2012). These two studies indicate overprotective parenting style does not only harm children socially, but also leads to the development of behavioral disorders. Other than social phobia and behavioral problems, it also leads togrowth and development problems in children as discussed below.

2.2 Effects On a Child`s Growth and Development

Clinton & Sibcy (2006) argue that overprotected children tend to lack discipline, are socially irresponsible, and are incapable of resolving conflicts or engaging in negotiations. These children often become underachievers, performing poorly than others in social, spiritual, and personal development. The fact that they lack security makes them dependent on others and they lack the necessary confidence needed to face life`s challenges. These children are also likely to end up in abusive and unhealthy relationships and may seek alternatives to numb pain, because of the difficulties they face in regulating their emotions. Kids of overprotective parents often tend to be impulsive, immature, and angry. They face difficulties not only in making informed financial decisions, but also in keeping their jobs, and maintaining loyalty (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006).

3.0 Developing Healthy and Loving Relationships with Children

3.1 The Golden Rule of Parenting

Mathew 7:12 tells us that in everything, we should do unto others what we would have them do unto us. According to Clinton & Sibcy (2006), this is the golden rule that parents should use in developing healthy and loving relationships with their kids. They argue that parents cannot expect their children to respect them if they do not offer them the same respect and love. This implies that a parent who disciplines a disrespectful child by yelling at him or her, calling them bad names, or treating them rudely is in fact training their child on how to give disrespect for disrespect. Children who are brought up using such a parenting style may not outwardly express disrespect, but inwardly, they can never develop respect for their parents. As a result, a parent who does this teaches his or her children to treat others they way they are treated, as opposed to treating people the way they would wish to be treated. This golden rule implies that regardless of how bad a child may be behaving, parents should respond with love and respect (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006). This however does not imply that parents should not discipline their kids; however, parents have to discipline, correct, and offer consequences to their children in a respectful manner.

4.0 What Children Need From Their Parents

Parents have the ability to build and maintain close and caring relationships with their children, offering effective discipline, and helping kids resolve behavior problems. The primary responsibility given to parents by God is to help children become more like God, and this can only be achieved if parents give their children a healthy and Godly love (Clinton and Sibcy, 2006).

4.1 Loving Without Overprotecting

According to Clinton & Sibcy (2006), “suffering is always uncomfortable,but it is not always bad.” (p. 23). It is important to work through justifiable pain in order to attain a higher purpose or a greater good. In the process of learning how to persevere amidst the trials of life, human beings develop character. The importance of parents providing protection to their children cannot be overemphasized.however, they must also help these children to learn how to protect and think for themselves. As a child grows and he or she is ready to leave home, parents have to work themselves out of the role of a disciplinarian and a guardian and into the role of a counselor and mentor. Love is important to everybody and particularly to children. If children cannot learn and feel love at home, then there is no other place they will receive it. One of the primary functions of parenting is that parents have to build a relationship with their children. Every child requires at least one parent who is crazy about him or her (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006). Relationships are very important to children. Relationships help in building trust and intimacy and permit the children to open up to their parents.

It is important for children to understand that they are children of God (John 1:12) and that they serve as the light and salt of the world (Matthew 5:13). It is for this reason that children should be taught that in the eyes of God they are highly valued and they are cherished by both God and their parents. Parents have responsibility to reflect the love of God in their parenting. Children have to be taught that the love of their parents just like the love of God is unwavering and unconditional. They need to have confidence that even if the whole earth turns against them, they will still have their parents by their side. Children also need guidance and discipline.

4.2 Guidance and Discipline

The book of proverbs 22:6 reminds us that parents should train their kids in a way that they should go so when they become adults and that they will follow it. Parents have to offer proper direction and guidance to their kids instead of using cruel and unexplained discipline. It is the responsibility of parents to guide their kids in a loving manner through a systematic procedure. According to Clinton & Sibcy (2006), children do not always follow what they are told by their parents, but in most cases, they often do what their parents do. Kids are keen observers; as a result, parents have to be careful so that they can model proper behavior and lifestyles. Clinton & Sibcy (2006) argue that before parents can apply more structured behavioral techniques in correcting a disobedient child, a good parent-child relationship must fisrt exist. When disciplining their children, parents should take into account Proverbs 13:24, which says that a parent who loves his son is careful in disciplining him. In performing their disciplinary action, parents have to be careful at all times because overdoing it is likely to destroy the child`s soul. In the absence of relationship, rules tend to promote rebellion, whereas with relationship, rules promote respect. Furthermore, discipline is not always about physical punishment (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006). In some cases, physical punishment is a misguided discipline tool because not all kids respond positively to this type of punishment. A stern look from a father or a mother may be enough in some cases. Parents should know that sometimes childhood irresponsibility is a normal occurrence, and as a result, they should not be too quick in disciplining their children. As a whole, parents ought to be careful when disciplining their children and maintain strong relationships with their children to avoid broken souls and spirits. Apart from guidance and discipline, children require time to have fun through play.

4.3 Playtime

Parents have a responsibility of keeping a close watch on their children to ensure that they do not suffer from disorders such as anxiety, eating disorders, attention deficit disorders, and even depression. One way of keeping in touch with children is by spending some minutes with them. Clinton and Sibcy (2006) uses a bank account analogy to explain how parents relate to their children. They argue that children have “emotional bank accounts.” There are many ways that parents make deposits into their children`s emotional bank accounts, however, the best way is by spending some time with them. They argue that whenever there is a conflict or stress in the parent-child relationship it amounts to a withdrawal from the account (Clinton and Sibcy, 2006). In order to keep the child`s emotional bank account with a positive balance, parents should set aside at least 20 minutes three or four times per week to play with their kids. Parents need to schedule this playtime such that the children can anticipate it. In addition, the playtime should not be made contingent on anything like behavior because it should not be something that can be earned or lost. During playtime, parents should follow the lead provided by the children and not issue any commands or life lessons. At the same time, parents should point out any unique qualities they have observed in their children.

5.0 Developing Healthy Boundaries with Children

5.1 Respect

According to Cloud and Townsend (1998), children should be taught five things relating to respect-avoid hurting others,show  respect to others even when they refuse our requests, respect boundaries, learning to become sad rather than mad when the boundaries or limits of other people prevent us from achieving what they want, and appreciate others` need to be left alone. Whenever a child is disrespectful, parents should identify with the feelings of the child and rectify the wrong; parents should offer consequences when their children choose not to apologize or correct themselves or repent (Cloud and Townsend, 1998). For example, a kid may yell at her mother or use improper language. The parent should communicate to the child after the child has cooled her temper and inform her that she understands that she was angry. However, after showing empathy, parents should instruct their children on the proper methods of expressing their anger. If a kid repents, apologizes, and corrects herself, there should be no consequence for disrespect. Kids should be aware that their parents understand their loss or pain. Another ingredient in developing healthy boundaries with children is motivation.

5.2 Motivation

Colossians 3:23 states that in everything you do, do it with whole your heart, and do it to God and not to fellow humans. Although it is important for children to learn how to comply out of choice to avoid consequences, in later stages, they have to develop pure and right motives for being respectful and responsible. According to Cloud and Townsend (1998), it is the responsibility of parents to help their children develop the right motives. Teaching children on the fear of consequences is very important. They should be taught that they have to think about the likely costs before acting. Parents have to set limits and stay true to those limits. Most importantly, they have to empathize with their kids. This will permit the children to understand that every choice has a consequences. In addition, they will not be worried of losing their parent`s love or risk being abandoned. Cloud and Townsend (1998) argue that children should learn on how to fear losing freedoms or desired items. It is the responsibility of parents to encourage their children, particularly adolescents to openly ask whether a given game, word or movie is bad or not. According to Cloud and Townsend (1998), love is the best motivator. Children should learn to derive their motivation from compassion. To achieve this, parents should speak to their children about how the things they say or do make other people feel, in addition to providing them with numerous experiences for them to internalize and own for themselves. Similarly, children should be educated and trained on responsibility.

5.3 Responsibility

Galatians 6:5 reminds us that each one of us shall carry his or her own load. Cloud and Townsend (1998) note that individuals who are immature often experience life as victims and as a result, they continuously seek the help of others to help them solve their problems. How an individual responds to a particular situation or environment largely shapes their character. The individual response as opposed to the environment or the situation is the greatest influence. Children should understand that the attitudes they have toward their family members, friends, school, God and even themselves will not be similar to that of others (Cloud and Townsend, 1998). Parents have a responsibility to help their kids understand that particular attitudes bring rewards while others result in undesirable consequences. Children too have to be accountable for nurturing a positive and respective attitude toward others. They must be accountable for how they act both in private and public. As part of the parents` role in supporting their children to be responsible people, parents should allow their children to take natural or logical consequences and at the same time giving them room to express how they feel (Cloud and Townsend, 1998). Children can only be responsible if their parents structure their life around reality and responsibility. Parents should help their kids to develop the ability to differentiate between bailing out a friend and helping a friend because even their friends ought to learn how they can tackle their life challenges (Cloud and Townsend, 1998). The ability to learn and apply responsibility directly influences children`s view of themselves, which has a direct impact on their behavior and productivity at home, school, and play. The following section will discuss the concept of sowing and reaping and its role in creating healthy boundaries between parents and children.

5.4 Sowing and Reaping

            The concept of sowing and reaping can help  children appreciate that they will only harvest what they sow, however, parents  have to undergo hatred, tears and difficulties in the process of helping their kids develop boundaries. The concept helps children to learn that any mistake they make costs them. When children become aware of this reality, they change their behavior. Cloud and Townsend (1998) argue that when children face consequences for their actions, the responsibility shifts away from the parents to their children. As a result, the problem become the kid`s problem as opposed to the parent`s problem. If parents permit their children`s problems to be theirs, then no consequences exist to serve as motivators to the children to do their own problem solving. Parents should avoid their innate desires to bail their children out by not permitting them to confront the normal consequences of their actions.

6.0 Conclusion

            In conclusion, overprotective parenting style brings absolutely no benefits to kids. It only destroys the close parent-child relationship. In addition, it reduces their children`s chances of success because it denies them freedom, making them inexperienced in handling even the most basic of life`s challenges. Parents should learn to give love without overprotecting and to give freedom to their children within healthy boundaries. In addition, they should always be ready to give advice when they feel it necessary or when children seek it.


Clinton, T., & Sibcy, G. (2006). Loving your child too much: Staying close to your kids without overprotecting, overindulging, or overcontrolling. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. (1998). Boundaries with kids. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Gere, M., Kendall, P., Torgersen, S., Villabø, M. (2012). Overprotective parenting and child anxiety: The role of co-occurring child behavior problems. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 26(6), 642–649

Kiel, E. J., & Maack, D. J. (2012). Maternal BIS sensitivity, overprotective parenting, and children’s internalizing behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(3), 257-262. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.03.026

Spokas, M., & Heimberg, R. G. (2009). Overprotective parenting, social anxiety, and external locus of control: Cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 33(6), 543-551.