From the moment you lay eyes on your baby, you want to keep them safe.
You want to answer every cry and meet their every need.
You experience this indescribable mama bear feeling where you would do anything to protect them.
Those feelings are so important. They’re so necessary. We need to protect our infants and we need to meet their every need.
Why Not Overprotecting Your Children So Important
But what does true protection mean as they grow older? Can we prevent frustration? Every hurt feeling?
I’m sure our mama hearts wish we could protect them from all hurts while we bring them up as well-rounded and prepared adults.
However, what our children need is to learn how to overcome. They need to learn how to overcome frustration, hurt feelings and even failure. They need to learn when to take risks, and when it’s unsafe or unwise to do so.
Why Shouldn’t I Overprotect My Child?
It’s important to realise that you can and should protect your child. However, you shouldn’t overprotect. We’re all going to have varying levels of what we feel is overprotection versus what is necessary.
In general, overprotection tends to occur when we’re trying to save our children from everyday challenges.
We could mediate the neighborhood children’s play so no one has a disagreement. We could run every forgotten homework assignment and library book to school.
We could help them with an assignment they’re instructed to do on their own. We could tell sugarcoated stories about real life events to help keep them innocent as long as possible.
We could do our best to always make them happy. But is that what’s best for them? In the long run, probably not.
When our children are given the chance to work out disagreements, they learn conflict resolution. When they understand how to overcome a failed school assignment, they learn failure isn’t an end.
When they experience hard life events with age appropriate explanations, their world won’t suddenly come crashing down when they realise their parents hadn’t been truthful.
We need to protect our children, but we need to prepare them for life. We need them to have coping skills and resilience so they learn to overcome.
Rather than putting them in a bubble, we can walk alongside them and help them learn to navigate and overcome life’s challenges.
How Do I Find The Right Balance In Protecting My Children?
The world can feel big and scary when you think about protecting your children. Life is so full of joy, but also so full of heartache. We want to protect our children from anything bad, but how do we find the balance with not overprotecting?
Danger is something we should protect our children from. We should make sure our children are safe from harm that could cause serious injury. We should make sure they aren’t physically or emotionally harmed by other adults.
We can let our toddler toddle, learn to walk and run. They’re likely to have small tumbles, but they aren’t going to be seriously injured in a safe environment.
No matter how many times a toddler tumbles, they get back up and try again. A perfect lesson
We can let our children see our emotions during hard life events and explain them in age appropriate ways. We can be honest about life’s challenges
We can let our child experience a less than perfect grade at school. Then we can help them overcome it.
We can let them experience challenging social situations. We can come alongside them, guide them and help them overcome hurt feelings.
Certainly, there are times we may need to step in and protect, (e.g. bullying) but not all childhood tiffs need adult intervention.
It can be hard to step back and let our children take risks, but life requires taking risks. Isn’t childhood, when you still have parents guiding, the best time to begin learning about how and when to take risks?
Helicopter Parents – 5 Steps to Kick the Helicopter Habit is an excellent read to help you understand more about overprotecting our children to a fault.
Why Is Not Overprotecting Our Children Invaluable?
In an ideal world, we’d have little to overcome. We wouldn’t have hurt feelings, work challenges, disagreements with loved ones, or unexpected tragedies.
Unfortunately, life does have its challenges. A huge component of becoming a well adjusted adult is the ability to overcome them.
When we are honest with our children about life, when we allow them to explore and experience their world without our constant interference, and when we support rather than overprotect, we help them learn to overcome.
While our mama hearts would love for our children to never experience any pain, the best thing we can do is help our children learn how to overcome it.