Thursday, December 07, 2006

I Often See Examples Of This

(Picture by Penny Gentieu)

Excerpt from 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D:

Recently I was in a grocery store standing in front of the dairy case. As I was trying to decide what kind of milk to buy, I noticed a mother with a girl, about nine, pushing a cart and coming around the corner toward me. As they came closer, the mother said anxiously, "Now watch out for that man over there!"

I'm an average-sized adult male of about 180 pounds. There is no way this young lady was not going to see me. Even if she had been traveling at 40 miles per hour, she still would have plenty of room to stop before crashing into my legs. Mom's comment was an example of what we some times call "overparenting". Overparenting refers to unnecessary corrective, cautionary or disciplinary comments made by parents to kids. These parental comments can be unnecessary for several reasons.

1. The child already has the skill to manage the situation.

2. Even if the child doesn't have all the necessary skills to manage the situation, it would be preferable for the youngster to learn by direct experience.

3. In addition to 1 or 2, the issue involved is trivial.

Though the incident we just described is trivial, the issue of overparenting is not - for two reasons: (1) parents who overparent usually do it repeatedly, and (2) overparenting has predictable, negative effects on children. Kids will have several reactions to unnecessary parental warnings and unnecessary discipline, and none of these will be positive. Add these reactions up over time, and you have a significant negative impact on a child's personality and self-esteem.

Related: Parent Hacks


At December 7, 2006 at 9:56:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen people overparent, and likely been guilty of it myself on occasion, but I feel like I'm seeing a LOT more underparenting!

At December 7, 2006 at 11:28:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was raised with a fair bit of well intentioned overparenting. I'm not sure it left any lasting effect, either negative or otherwise, but I was a nervous child - always feeling like I would make a terrible mistake if I didn't have an authority figure watching my every move. I've caught myself falling prey to it as well. And yes, I agree underparenting is worse. But still...

At December 8, 2006 at 6:37:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Raggedy Mom: Very true.

Anonymous: I related to the description above because my father still tells me to get out of the way to this very day - and I am 34. The reason I posted this was that my wife has to deal with this on an almost daily basis and it can strain friendships at times.


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