Fighting back "overprotective" impulses - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 05-09-2013, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Lately as my DS approaches his three year old birthday in a few months, and gets increasingly independent, I have been having to struggle against what seems to be an impulse to be overprotective.  My own mother was very loving and "AP" with me, but also very overprotective and worried all the time, and it was so stifling.  I swore I would not do that with my son.  I did great for the first few years (when it was easier!), but now he is getting so independent.  I am finding my natural impulse is to hold him back or yell at him to be careful, and I have to be very conscious not to do that, while at the same time striking the right balance by taking reasonable safety precautions! 


For those of you whose instincts tend toward the overprotective side, I'm just curious how you manage those feelings, and strike the right balance between safety and fostering independence and confidence?

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#2 of 10 Old 05-09-2013, 12:13 PM
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I know it sounds totally mean but I remind myself what dorky kids that overprotective people tend to have. I also think back to my own childhood and remember that I broke my wrists, required stitches, came home bruised and scraped all the time. It wasn't because I had bad parents, but an awesome childhood. All of those "oh crap, I shouldn't have done that" moments taught me valuable lessons that I wouldn't have learned if I were protected every moment of the day. My favorite one is when I was 5 and traversing the woods by myself with my dog... I started poking a bee hive to see what the bees would do... I found out exactly what they do lol... and I got stung so bad I couldn't see. My dog eventually had to drag me home. I learned several lessons that day, like why it's important to tell people where I'm going, to always have a plan how to get home, always know where I am and most importantly, don't throw rocks at bee hives ROTFLMAO.gif

We also had a swift river run along the edge of our property... I knew not to go in the water but it wasn't because I was properly supervised and told not to go in there winky.gif

Kids are very very curious creatures and the best lessons seem to be the most painful ones. They can only tolerate being told not to do something or to be careful for so long before it gets too tempting and they try it anyway. We might as well help them gain the skills to do dangerous things properly. 

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#3 of 10 Old 05-09-2013, 04:37 PM
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I have sort of a "how bad is this likely to be" filter I use. DD is 25 months now and she tends to be kind of cautious... if she feels like it. If what she's doing could easily cause broken bones then she gets told no but if she's simply likely to have a bump or a bruise then I watch her but let her figure things out. this works well for us because she's more likely to get hurt not paying attention during a routine task than try a daredevil stunt. She's the girl who will climb up safely to use a 7 foot slide but wipes out on the sidewalk because she's busy telling me about the "pretty yellow railing" she sees and isn't watching where she's going lol.
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#4 of 10 Old 05-09-2013, 06:33 PM
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My mom and DD and I were out somewhere a couple weeks ago and I just kept saying "be careful". It was an automatic reaction and I couldn't help myself :-/ I told my mom I was irritating myself and it wasn't helping anything...she said its a mothering talisman to prevent harm, like a rabbits foot or not stepping on cracks wink1.gif

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#5 of 10 Old 05-09-2013, 06:36 PM
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I'm def not overprotective, DH and his parent however are incredibly suffocating at times.  Well DH isn't so bad, I've explained to him how allowing DD to do things will allow her to be safe and he's getting it.  The IL's not so much.  My MIL will sit there as DD climbs into her keekaroo high chair - with me sitting RIGHT there - and go "oohhhh, oh no, go slow, oh careful careful" and make a million other noises that are like nails on a chalkboard to me.  I somehow managed to escape childhood without a broken bone (still not sure how after a 20' fall from a tree!) but I know DD could get hurt just walking down the hall or chasing our dogs.  Two black eyes already and she's only 18mos, so she's just gettign warmed up!  I find the more I try to restrain her or tell her no, the more she wants to do it and the more likely to rush or not focus and get hurt.  So I either sit back and say nothing or I tell her it's ok which tends to make her go slow and think about it.  She's already figured how to climb DH's deer stand in the back that he was using for bow practice so since that's a bit high we just steer clear and shortly I'l be requesting it's removal to prevent further temptation.

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#6 of 10 Old 05-09-2013, 07:07 PM
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I ask myself "What is, realistically, the worse that could happen?"  Broken bone?  Stitches?  Skinned knee?  For me, no problem.  I do warn them to be safe, but I don't hover.


I do listen to my gut, though.  If I really don't like what they're doing, because my instincts are going off, then I redirect them.

SAHM to DS BuggaBoo blahblah.gif  12/07, and DD Doozer energy.gif03/10.  Sharing life with The Hubby since 01/05.

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#7 of 10 Old 05-11-2013, 02:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the good advice! I tried using the how bad could it be advice yesterday and I think it worked well!
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#8 of 10 Old 05-11-2013, 11:08 AM
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I take a different type of approach than the other suggestions by allowing myself to be overprotective! I just understand that there is danger in the world that I have to protect him from, and at three he doesn't understand it all. I try to not get too scared but just to stick really close to him and watch out closely- but then I give him lots of freedom in the home, or other safe places., for example- and try to take him safe places like parks and such where he can be a little more free to run around- even at parks though I am quite cautious. My husband is more courageous with adventurous things such as at the park so he balances it out for me- but essentially I don't fight my overprotective urge for my little one. I think it often depends on personality as I am cautious myself so I am that way as a parent. But I try as best as I can to not make my overprotection come out as too much fear, if that makes sense. There is a fine line to protect and yet still raise them confident and I think it can be found.

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#9 of 10 Old 05-29-2013, 02:22 PM
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I try to look at it like this - my job as a parent is to raise a confident, independent person. No one learns to be confident and independent without making mistakes or getting hurt. Nothing is ever really "safe", accidents can happen at any time or place, so I want her to have the best physical and mental reactions possible, and she won't learn those if she isn't exposed to stressors. She has to learn to be dependent on her own judgement (oh this is too high, and it hurts when I fall) and not mine, or she won't learn how to judge risks all. I don't think it's a coincidence that the kids with hovering parents at the playground are usually timid and uncoordinated. You aren't born with coordination, you learn it by falling down and getting hurt. 

If my toddler falls a couple of feet off some playground equipment, it will make her a better climber. Also, if I am afraid, it makes her afraid. So I just stand back,and let her do her thing as much as possible, only intervening when it will cause her or someone else major bodily harm. I'm always close by if she needs me, but I try to have zero reaction when I see her fall down unless she seems really hurt. As a result, she almost never cries or gets upset when she falls, but gets up and tries again, and that makes me proud (even if I'm secretly thinking "my poor sweet baby!!!!")

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#10 of 10 Old 05-29-2013, 02:43 PM
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I really wished that my husband had been the type I could trust, since I was the overprotective type, but it wasn't to be. Instead, I made choices about what I would tolerate, as conscious decisions. My son was allowed to climb so high in the tree without a spotter. Above that height he needed to have an adult nearby, just in case of an accident. My son respected that limit, and I felt better that he could explore while I remained somewhat overprotective.
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