Connect with Your Child but Don't Overdo it


We all want to connect and be involved with our child. Children of involved parents generally feel more confident, assured and have a higher level of self esteem. They excel in school and do well in extracurricular activities and with their hobbies.

But is there such a thing as too much involvement? It's imperative when you're becoming involved with your school-aged child's activities and academics that you recognize the line of what being too involved can be.

Remember, you're becoming involved in your child's life. It's important that you don't intrude too much upon it. Children need their space and privacy and they need to be able to develop their own skills, talents and abilities. In our eagerness to help our child succeed, it's tempting to want to step in and start doing things for them because you feel they are doing it incorrectly or inadequately. But remember, you had to learn too, and this is their chance to learn on their own.

Be there to encourage and support your child, and offer praise at a job well done. But also remember to step back and allow your child to learn from their own mistakes, and to develop their own way of doing things. We all know from our own life experiences that there's always more than just one way to do something, and just because your child is doing it differently than you would doesn't make it wrong. Who knows, it could present a terrific opportunity for you to learn from your child as well.

In addition, try not to become too overbearing or nosy when it comes to their social life. Be available for them should they need to talk and encourage them to share their troubles with you so you can help them sort through a problem. But if they say they don't want to talk about it or they just need some time to figure things out for themselves, respect that need by letting them know you're available whenever they need you. This is an important part of growing up and allowing a child to figure his own way through things is an integral part of that process.


Anonymous said...

Great post Jason. I'm involved with Grace, but I try not to be involved in everything. For instance, I teach her piano lessons, and lead the children's choir at church, but I don't want to teach Sunday School or work in the Children's programs that she's involved in at church. Why? Because she needs to learn from other people, she needs to be herself and not always have me right there to watch her or to help her through every situation in life.

I see some parents that are involved in EVERYTHING their child does and it seems like it kind of has a smothering effect.

Pamela said...

You are right on target here. As a mom and a Marriage and Family Therapist I couldn't agree more. Raising children is a balancing act in so many ways, including the balance of independence and connection.
Here are a few ideas.
1. Don't do for your child that which he can do for himself. He needs to practice pouring his own breakfast cereal or filling the car up with gas.
2. Notice what your child is developmentally ready for and then run alongside with support and encouragement until they have it down.
3. Listen to your child when they indicate they are "too old" for something and find a new normal that's comfortable to both of you. "I understand you don't want me to hug you in front of the school bus but I still need a hug every morning. Where do you think we should do that?
4. Children need lots of adults in their lives they can look to as role models. The number of adults will naturally increase with age.