9 Characteristic Signs of an Overprotective Parent

3 kids in the backseat of a car wrapped in bubble wrap

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Of course, you want to protect your kids. We all do. But are you turning into an overprotective parent who actually may be hindering your child's full potential? Watch out for the nine tell-tale signs that you're an overprotective parent and find out what you can do to ease up on the reins.

Micromanaging Everything for Your Kids

Are you keeping your child close, a little too close? Ruling over every single aspect of their life isn't good for them or you either.

Micromanagement can stop your child in their tracks and prevent them from finding those interests they would like to pursue. Open the door to let them tell you what they would like to do, from taking up a new hobby to having a sleepover at a friend's house.

Shielding Your Child From Failure

No one wants to fail. We sometimes question ourselves because our desire to be perfect leads us to think we're failing as parents. That fear of failure means we sometimes go out of our way to make sure our children don't fail either.

Realistically, though, your child is going to fail. And that's okay. Let them experience failure and watch them bounce back. They'll probably surprise you. If they don't make the football team, they may train harder and become the school's next track star. If they don't turn in their homework because you weren't there to nudge them to do it, they'll face the teacher and come up with a way to make up the work.

Not Teaching Responsibility

You make their bed. You clean their room. You put all of their clothes away.

We all know it can be easier and quicker to just do it all yourself. However, teaching your child responsibility is an important lesson. Even the youngest children can pitch in to help out while learning early lessons in responsibility.

Take the time to teach them how to clean their room, even if that means you help them and take pictures so they'll remember exactly what it's supposed to look like when it's clean. Assign age-appropriate chores throughout the house to get everyone to do their fair share.

Consoling Your Child Too Much

It breaks your heart to see your child get upset, whether it's over a boo-boo or another child who's mean to them. We want to fix those hurt feelings and that usually means we overcompensate in the consolation department.

It's not that you want to spoil your child to make them feel better. It just happens when we overly console our children and don't let them work through their emotions to self-soothe. That doesn't mean you can't be there for your child.

Kiss those boo-boos. Give them a warm hug as you talk about what that other child did to hurt them. Just don't go overboard with a trip to the ice cream shop, a new game from the toy store, and a night at the movies with all-you-can-eat popcorn for dinner over one minor incident.

Managing Your Child's Friendships

But Nathan is such a nice kid. Your child really should be best friends with them. How wonderful it would be if we could pick and choose our child's friends! Then again, we wouldn't want our parents picking and choosing our friends, would we?

While it doesn't hurt to break the ice for kids to introduce them to other children, that doesn't mean we can force them into a friendship just because it would be oh-so-great if your best friend's kids were besties with yours.

There is a good reason to interfere when necessary, though. So-called friendships that are harmful, such as another child physically or mentally harming your child need to be addressed, without a doubt.

Constantly Reminding Them of Danger

Keeping your kids safe should always be a top priority. Scaring them half to death with every little thing they do isn't always the best policy, though.

If you find you're continually spouting "Don't!" and "Stop!" at your child, "don't" do that and try to "stop" yourself. All your child hears are the negatives coming from all directions . If they are playing in the street, obviously you'll want to tell them to stop. If they're headed up the five-rung ladder at the playground for the 100th time, you can take a break, watch carefully, and know they got this.

Controlling Their Activity Choices

Your child wants to try baseball this year but you know they're really good at soccer. Or they want to be on the math team with their best friend, but you know their strengths lie in geography. They want to go to a different summer camp instead of the same camp they've gone to for the past four years.

Sometimes we absentmindedly block our kids from branching out on their own. It's all right if they're not that great at baseball but really want to try. It doesn't matter if the main reason for joining the math team is because their buddy will be a teammate. And if they wants to go to a different summer camp to explore something new, that's okay too.

Let your child make some of their own decisions regarding their interests and pursuits. They'll enjoy the freedom and become a more independent person, which is what we all want for our children.

Continually Checking Up on Them

Your child's teachers are on speed dial so you can frequently get an update on how they're doing in class. They can't go to a friend's house down the street without you calling every hour on the hour. You're always asking if they're okay and if there's anything you can do for them.

As doting parents, we sometimes over-dote. We only want to make sure our kids are doing well, but that can lead to us smothering them and freaking out when they're out of sight.

Yes, you should touch base with your child's teachers. Of course, you should check to make sure your child made it to the friend's house. Do talk to your child to see how they're doing.

Balance all of these check-ins so you're not making yourself and everyone around you crazy with a continual need for reassurance.

Placing Your Child in a Bubble

If only life was filled with sunshine and unicorns. Today's children are playing shoot-'em-up video games we never would have dreamed possible to create. They're faced with dangers we didn't have to worry about and seeing images on TV that would have only been on paid cable channels after midnight when we were younger.

You absolutely want to protect them as long as you can from anything harmful. As much as we would like to let our children grow up in a bubble away from the real world, though, it's simply not possible.

It's better for you to teach them about some of the harsh realities of the modern world to make them more street-smart without them learning from friends or getting into a situation where they go along with the crowd because they have no idea what's going on. That bubble can only protect them so long and you want to make sure you're the one who teaches them about the world around them like only a loving parent can.

A Word From Verywell

Kids need room to grow and develop—and to make mistakes and learn from natural consequences. But it's tough to let them explore and mess up sometimes. If you're an overprotective parent, try to take a step back. Give your child a little more room. Guide them along the way but don't protect them from everything.

If you're struggling to let go a little, talk to someone. You might find that speaking to a mental health professional can help you learn how to give your child the space they need to develop the skills they need to grow into a responsible adult.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Apryl Duncan
Apryl Duncan is a stay-at-home mom and internationally-published writer with years of experience providing advice to others like her.