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Are you overparenting? A child psychologist says these are the tell-tale signs


It is easy for parents to slip into the traps of “overparenting”, putting greater importance on their children’s childhood experiences.

One expert shares his tips on how to spot warning signs and avoid it.

According to Judith Locke (clinical psychologist), overparenting can either be defined in one of two ways.

Parents can over-assist their child in homework, even though they may have the best intentions. Locke shared his concerns with CNBC via video and said that this could lead to the child not being able to learn essential skills.

Locke said that the second meaning of this is parents who “extremely respond” to their children. The level of care, affection, praise, and love that a parent shows to their child is called responsiveness.

Locke stated that extreme responsiveness does not mean having a close relationship with the child via special quality time or such like, but also describing the child as your friend and praising him so often that they can’t resist constructive criticism.

Locke is author of “The Bonsai Child”, which uses this analogy to show how raising a child within an abusive environment can lead to them not being able to handle the real world.

Locke stated that overparenting “looks like the most loving and caring parenting” but in fact it is quite “performative.”

How can you tell when your parenting is pushing the limits?

‘Extreme responsiveness’

Locke pointed out that parents are not always giving enough praise. There were also signs that they weren’t being responsive to children’s every request in an attempt to make their kids happy.

For example, they were not allowed to feel bored during school holidays and instead filled their time with other activities.

Locke explained that “extreme responsiveness” could also be described as believing every child’s words. However, she cautioned parents against getting too fixated on lying children.

She explained that lying to children is actually the ability to use resourcefulness to change the truth and make things work for them.

And believing everything a child said could also become a problem at school, Locke pointed out: “So when children are coming home and saying, ‘I got a detention that I didn’t deserve’ … parents are believing the child over the teacher.”


Locke stated that over-parenting was also a form of parenting where too much attention is placed on helping children develop self-worth.

She said that children are not allowed to shy away from their parents, which could lead to unrealistic expectations.

Locke was referring to Martin Seligman’s American psychologist book, “The Optimistic Kid.” According to her book, Seligman admits that there’s a connection between doing well and feeling good, but she also stated that it was impossible for a child to feel happy just because they do well.

Locke stated that parental interventions to remove shyness from a child with the expectation they will be confident showed extreme responsiveness as well as demandingness.

These interventions include calling another parent to invite their child to a party or helping a child who isn’t on a team.

Age-appropriate Challenges

To determine if your child is doing enough for you as a parent, consider whether they can match other children their age in the area of skills.

You should be asking yourself, “Am I too generous for my child?”Locke said,

Locke identified five core skills children should have: resilience, self regulation, resourcefulness and respect.

A 2012 studyLocke co-authored this survey, which included 128 parents who were questioned about the effects of overparenting. Respondents to the survey found that children were more likely to be overwhelmed by their parents’ inability and entitlement. They also reported a lack of resilience and poor development of life skills.

Locke referred to her bonsai analogy from her book and said that just as exposure to the elements could make a tree more strong, so it can help children face age-appropriate challenges.

She suggested that parents must think of ways to support their child in order for them to be successful.

Locke said that your role as parent should diminish as your child takes on more responsibility.

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