Is it time to cut the cord?

Questions to ask if you think you are an overprotective parent

Think you might be a bit too overprotective with your kids? Here are a few questions Dr. Paul Schwartz, professor of psychology and education at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, suggests parents ask themselves if they feel they are guilty of being overprotective.

  1. Do I rush to do things that my child can do themselves, because when they have difficulty they become frustrated? 

  2. Do I discourage my child from trying something new because I can do it faster and I’m afraid they might fail and become discouraged? 

  3. Do I only allow my child to engage in activities he’ll be successful accomplishing, trying to avoid any failure in his life?

If the answer to any of these is yes, you might be guilty of overprotecting your child.

READ MORE: Dr. Paul Schwartz discusses the evolution of parenting

Why do so many of our adolescents appear aimless and incapable of making good decisions? 

The training ground for the increased freedom and responsibility thrust upon adolescents begins in childhood, it doesn’t magically appear when a child begins puberty.  How can we expect our children to progress along the continuum of autonomy and responsibility unless we begin early in their lives? 

READ MORE: Top tips for parenting through the teen years

Progressing toward the independence endemic to adolescence is just that, a progression, a slow steady recognition of and the taking on of age-appropriate responsibility and personal freedom.  I see the problems of dependence even at the college level. So many freshman come to live at college having been overprotected and sheltered throughout their lives and don’t know how to deal with the self-directed and self-structured nature of college life.

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Children need to experience age-appropriate autonomy and personal freedom, and should be given responsibility commensurate with their developmental level. Unfortunately, there’s no clear guideline as to when children should be given specific freedoms and responsibilities because all children mature at different rates. However if you notice that other kids – the same age as your child -- are doing more for themselves than your child does, perhaps you’re delaying your child’s independence.

Paul Schwartz, PhD., is a professor of psychology and education at Mount Saint Mary College.