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Ask any kid whether their parents are overprotective, and they’ll probably say yes. Whether or not their parents are actually overprotective, however, cannot likely be determined from their child’s testimony—as it’s innate for children and teens to think their parents are a little too controlling or strict. Take for example, a father-daughter dispute in an episode of Criminal Minds.

The BAU is on the hunt for a serial killer in a small Florida town, and the locals are on high alert—especially the town’s sheriff who’s helping the team solve the case. In the midst of new discoveries, the sheriff demands his two kids don’t step foot out of the police station; and while his son obediently obliges, his daughter declares the rule unfair. In her eyes, their dad is just being overprotective. In this case, the parent is not being overprotective or unreasonable—instead, he is taking necessary measures to keep his kids safe during unusually dangerous circumstances.

What Is Coddling?

That being said, however, there are plenty of instances when parents do take their parenting too far: such as when they enforce stringent rules, intrude on every aspect of their child’s life, and go to extraordinary lengths to protect their kid from potential harm. Or—in fewer words—when they coddle their kids. Overprotective parents often have good intentions, but their parenting style can prove harmful to their kid’s development. Therefore, it’s important to understand, recognize, and regulate overprotective parenting. Here are 5 signs you’re coddling your kid:

    1) You intervene before your child has a chance to solve the problem on their own.
    Overprotective parents are quick to step in when problems arise for their kids—they do everything in their power to shield their child from adversity and discomfort. This may seem like the right and noble thing to do, but it can actually set your kid up for failure in the future: they’ll never learn to solve problems on their own, nor will they develop the self-confidence cultivated by decision-making. Let them solve their problems and offer assistance or advice when or if they ask you for it.

    2) Your child never lifts a finger—you do everything for them.
    A tell-tale sign that you’re coddling your child is if you do absolutely everything for them: you clean their room; you make them custom dinners because they don’t like what you made for everyone else; you drop everything to take them to a friend’s house. You grant their every wish to keep them happy, but their happiness is not the only consequence—your kids will also fail to learn the importance of independence and responsibility. Don’t be afraid to assign them chores and say no to sudden or unreasonable requests.

    3) You micromanage their activities and friendships.
    Overprotective parents try to control everything their child does and who they do it with. They have domineering opinions regarding what sport their child plays, which classmates they’re allowed to engage with, and where they can hang out after school. Not only will this push your kids away, but it will further hinder your kids in regards to decision-making. They need to learn how to make their own decisions, even if that involves a few mistakes along the way—so loosen the leash a little, and allow them to do so.

    4) You go overboard to protect them and console them when they get hurt.
    It breaks every parent’s heart to see their child upset—but that doesn’t constitute grounds for embedding severe fears about potential dangers into their minds, or going overboard with consolation. Everybody gets hurt, it’s an unavoidable part of life; teach your kids this simple truth, and equip them with the skills to bounce back.

    5) You discourage them from trying something that makes you uncomfortable.
    It might make you nervous or uncomfortable when your child branches out, but you shouldn’t discourage them; instead, you should support or even motivate them to do so. They might express a sudden interest in baseball, but you know they’d be better at basketball; or maybe they want to try out for the school volleyball team, and you’re sure they’re not ready—whatever the case, you should encourage them to go for it.

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