• The Overprotected American Child by A. Petersen

The Overprotected American Child by A. Petersen

I have had severe anxiety since childhood, which my mother recognized. My mother was over-protective: wrong move. Being overprotective of an anxious kid will only delay their development, make adulthood ten times harder than it need be, all by increasing the anxiety, among other things. This article confirms all that.

 The Overprotected American Child by A. Petersen

Why not let them walk to school alone? Parents and communities are figuring out ways to give their children more independence—and it just may help them to become less anxious, more self-reliant adults

… Fewer children are walking to school on their own, riding their bicycles around neighborhoods or going on errands for their parents. There have been several high profile cases of parents actually being charged with neglect for allowing their children to walk or play unsupervised.

…. Overzealous parenting can do real harm. Psychologists and educators see it as one factor fueling a surge in the number of children and young adults being diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

[Studies have shown that the number of kids, teens, and young adults diagnosed with anxiety has increased in years past]

…. A big 2007 study, published in Clinical Psychology Review, surveyed the scientific literature on how much parenting influences the development of anxiety in kids.

The parenting behavior that had the strongest impact of any kind was “granting autonomy” – defined as “parental encouragement of children’s opinions and choices, acknowledgment of children’s independent perspectives on issues, and solicitation of children’s input on decisions and solutions of problems.”

More autonomy was associated with less childhood anxiety. (Genes play an even bigger role, however, in individual differences in anxiety.)

For children who are already anxious, overprotecting can make it worse. “It reinforces to the child that there is something they should be scared of and the world is a dangerous place and ‘I can’t do that for myself,’ says Rebecca Rialon Berry, a clinical psychologist at the NYU Langone Child Study Center.

A lack of autonomy and independence can also stymie the development of self-confidence and may cause children to remain dependent on parents and others to make decisions for them when they become adults, says Jack Levine, a developmental pediatrician in New York.

And because children naturally want more independence as they grow, thwarting that desire can cause them to become angry and act out, notes Brad Sachs, a family psychologist in Columbia, Md.

…. Michael J. Hynes, a superintendent of the Patchogue-Medoford Schools on Long Island in New York, launched a Let Grow project last fall because he was seeing “kids more and more bubble wrapped as the years go on,” he says. “I’ve noticed they are averse to risk-taking.”

…. Anne Marie Albano, director of the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders in New York, reminds parents that the ultimate goal is to have their children be self-sufficient by the time they leave home for college or the workplace.

She and her colleagues have come up with a list of milestones that adolescents should achieve before high-school graduation, including being able to advocate for themselves with teachers and other authority figures, seeing a doctor without a parent and waking themselves up in the morning on their own. “We have parents who call their college students at Harvard or Michigan and wake them up every morning,” she says. You do not want to be that parent.

More On This Blog

A Rescue Plan For The Anxious Child by Andrea Petersen

For Some of Us Running Is the Key To Managing Depression And Anxiety by Scott Douglas

Empowering Kids In An Anxious World by C. Turner

Social Media Use Increases Depression and Loneliness, Study Finds


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