How to raise happy children without overprotecting them

The overprotected child is like an appendage of his parents, who, for fear of doing it wrong, wrap him in affection and precautions. How to accompany the children without canceling their capacity for autonomy?

The human being at birth is perhaps the most defenseless creature in the animal kingdom, the one with the fewest resources of its own, the one that most requires the care of its parents and the most dependent on them to survive.-

This creates a very special bond between parents and children and, in particular, between mother and child, known by the name of attachment.

Attachment allows the child to feel security, peace, comfort, pleasure and pleasure, to the point that the loss or mere absence of the caregiver can generate great unease and even anxiety.

On the other hand, the great challenge of the education and upbringing of children is that they become mature, autonomous and responsible people; that is, the child must go from being an absolutely dependent being to an autonomous adult.

The way in which these elements are combined will mark an educational style and will lead to a more or less healthy separation, at the same time that it will influence the type of affective bonds that the child will establish as an adult.


In recent decades our societies have become more democratic and liberal, while the value of the emotional in family and personal relationships is increasingly enhanced.

This evolution has led to changes in the sociology of families, so that children have taken on a role that they did not have for previous generations.

They have thus become the center around which the whole family revolves, to the point that in many cases it is the parents who adapt to them, without requiring any kind of effort to integrate into the family.

At the same time, parents who had been raised in an authoritarian environment, in which blind obedience had been instilled in them, have come to have a vision of education that is situated at the opposite pole, bordering on an excess of tolerance and permissiveness.

The confluence of these factors creates the breeding ground for overprotection, which is just as damaging as authoritarianism, although it is easier to correct if parents are aware of it.


To find out if an overprotective attitude is being adopted, we describe some examples of this type of family.

They provide excessive and exaggerated care to their children, as if they could not take a step without their consent, or express any discomfort. When they are babies, they hardly allow them to cry, since that cry generates a lot of anguish their immediate response is to pick them up, breastfeed, cradle them, etc. They tend to be very insecure parents with low self-esteem, and they easily feel guilty because they think they are not doing well when their child shows some kind of discomfort.

They do not grant children any kind of freedom, as if they were their property. As they get older, they suffer a lot imagining the risks that little ones can take in certain situations, such as going on a field trip with school, playing in the park or any other experience that they conceive as dangerous. Sometimes they unconsciously cause their children to become ‘sick” to excuse them from these situations.

They anticipate the wishes of the children even before they manifest them, and they speak of the children as if they were part of themselves: “he does not eat me”, “I”m already walking”, “he has suspended me two”. They are parents very fused with their children, who live everything that happens to them, good or bad, as if it happened to themselves.

They encourage childish behaviors in their children and thank them all because it is difficult for them to accept their growth. They do not educate them in the habits corresponding to their age, such as helping with small tasks around the house, doing some errands, small purchases. They always say that they are small for these things and that they will have time to learn them, without realizing that if these habits are not introduced little by little, then it becomes more difficult to do so.

They are undemanding of their children and do not allow them to face the obstacles that await them, so they always tend to excuse their mistakes and point out others as guilty: the teachers do not understand them, the other children act with bad ideas, your children are very sensitive.

In all these relationships we observe a confusion between parents and children, the result of a sense of absolute possession that makes the child feel imprisoned, like an object of his parents, since it is almost impossible for him to break the umbilical cord that joins them to them.

Therefore, when we talk about overprotected children, enmeshed children or any similar qualifier, we cannot forget that the responsibility is not so much of the children as of the parents, who due to their way of being have established such a close fusion with their children who are the first who find it difficult to separate from them.


As a consequence of all this, the overprotected child grows up without the possibility of forging his own personality.

Everything they do is controlled by their parents and many of their behaviors are aimed at satisfying them, since they perceive that, if they are not pleased, their parents suffer a lot, which makes them feel less loved.

The result is that they are immature children and highly dependent on their parents, which increases the risk that in their adolescence or adult life they may fall into any type of dependent behavior.

The most common characteristics of the overprotected child are:

  • low self – esteem that involves great insecurity.
  • He seeks more to satisfy others than himself.
  • They tend to show withdrawal and inhibition in their social relationships, which causes great shyness that makes it difficult for them to integrate with other children.
  • You have serious difficulty tolerating frustrations and setbacks because you are not used to it.
  • As you often get things without asking, you tend to be insatiable and do not value anything you have.
  • He is afraid of the unknown, which causes him many avoidance behaviors, that is, he stops doing things and it is difficult for him to start new activities with his colleagues.
  • He is usually a very uncreative and imaginative child.

It is very important that parents take all this into account when educating their children and that they are aware that overprotection, in the long run, has unpredictable negative consequences, because it affects the emotional and social development of children.


The best way to avoid an overprotective bond is to be aware that children are not part of their parents, but children who throughout their upbringing are going to depend on their parents but who, at the same time, have to learn to be independent.

Protecting children is often easier and more comfortable and avoids a lot of suffering for parents, but they must also learn to contain their anxieties and fears, allowing their children to progressively become independent.

As they see that their child responds positively and learns to face difficulties, these fears will gradually decrease, the children will become more confident and the parents will be calmer and more satisfied.

We have to count that with the arrival of puberty and, later, adolescence, the children will want to break the childhood family bond in which they have moved and will want to get involved in their group of friends, that is, they will go from the family bond to the social bond.

If during childhood autonomy and self-esteem have been promoted, this transition will be easier for everyone, since young people will be more prepared and parents will have more confidence in their children.

This education is a process that begins in the earliest stages of life : the mother must be able to include the father in the most exclusive relationship that is forged in the first months of life; entering kindergarten or school should be a reason for joy and not sadness; During school, they should be encouraged to participate in all activities : outings, excursions, colonies and foster relationships with their friends , allowing them to go to their homes and inviting them to come to ours. To promote a good emotional development of children, parents should try to:

  • Promote behaviors and habits that correspond to their age and maturation process: parents should not do things that concern their children.
  • Teach them to differentiate themselves. The child must learn that each member of the family has a specific place within that structure and not only a physical place -as it may be that each one must sleep in his bed and in his room-, but also a differentiated psychic place, although no less important, as the parents maintain a relationship between them that is not the same as the one, they have with their children.
  • Make him responsible for his own behavior, teaching him that any action always has consequences and trying to talk with him about the things that have gone wrong, whether in homework, at school or in relationships with his friends. This helps you find strategies to solve setbacks, always encouraging your judgment.
  • Do not avoid situations that may be complicated, but rather encourage him in these new experiences by strengthening his self-esteem and transmitting the idea that we fully trust him.
  • Let him ask for the things he wants. Parents should not rush to give him what they want, but that does not mean responding quickly to their demands, as it must also be taught that everything can wait.

With this attitude, children are helped to get older and to have confidence in themselves. That way they will feel more secure and know that they will always find our support in difficult times.


Parallel to all these small separations, parents have to put limits on the behavior of their children, since educating also means telling them what is right and what is wrong, what is allowed and what is not.

This whole process must be accompanied by a lot of affection, affection and respect for the decisions that are made.

Children must feel loved, they must find a family framework in which they can talk about their problems and setbacks, knowing that they will be listened to and helped since, in this way, a climate of mutual trust is generated that fosters the maturity of the children.

Often times, due to lack of time and an overly permissive attitude, parents find it difficult to set limits for their children and, although they are not overprotective parents, they tolerate inappropriate behavior.

If the child feels that “anything is possible” and does not follow a set of limits, he will feel confused and disoriented. For this reason, it is necessary that parents learn to establish a discipline that can guide their children.

In this area, each family must find its own method, but it is convenient to know that saying “no” from time to time will be very beneficial, and that you have to be consistent with the rules and be constant in their vigilance and compliance.

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