Protective Parenting and Your Child’s Social Development

When it comes to parenting your child, it can be easy to go too far in making sure that they stay safe. We read troubling headlines on a daily basis that fuel our mistrust of others, leading to others terming this fear as “stranger danger.” There are those who deride parents who seem too controlling and protective as “helicopter parents.” Regardless of whether or not these are fair criticisms, the precautions of protective parenting have a definite impact on our children’s perspective of the world around them.

Here are three ways that protective parenting can have consequences on children’s social development and your household:

Children will know how to keep the rest of your household safe

Should your protectiveness make an impression, being safety-conscious with your children can help them facilitate a safer household for everyone involved. Frequently, children behave in ways that endanger families. This can occur by revealing financial or personal details to others in person or online, irresponsible management of house keys or access codes to your security system, and a naivety towards strangers. However, it can be difficult to help young children balance naivety and absolute mistrust, since they tend to over-generalize advice.

They’ll can become better people readers

One result of defensive parenting is that children grow more capable of reading the intentions of people around them. This can help children better guard themselves when they’re away from your supervision. However, overprotective parenting can result in children who are socially maladjusted and mistrustful of even well-meaning strangers. To make sure you aren’t fostering blind mistrust to stunt the social development of your child, always explain the reasons that merit caution rather than just explaining that strangers can be dangerous, or that some things simply shouldn’t be done.

It can result in shyness and depression later in life

While there are benefits to being protective in childrearing, one potential consequence of helicopter parenting is that children will grow to be inappropriately shy – and even become depressed later in adolescence. Research supports the notion that being too protective can result in children feeling repressed and becoming reserved. A moderate amount of risk-taking is a natural part of every child’s development, and not allowing children to explore risks and rewards of social life free from their parents’ constant guidance can leave them not prepared to handle independence later in life.

While each of us wants to protect our children and families, it’s important to remember that healthy child development comes by allowing our young ones to become increasingly independent as they age.

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