'Overparenting' trend worries psychologists

'Overparenting' trend worries psychologists
QUT PhD researcher Judith Locke says parents have to let children face life's challenges, the good and bad. Credit: Helene Souza

(Medical Xpress)—School psychologists and counsellors are concerned that overbearing parents are raising children unable to cope with failure and life outside of home, a new QUT study shows.

A survey of nearly 130 parenting professionals across Australia found 27 per cent had seen 'many' instances of overparenting while almost 65 per cent reported having witnessed 'some' incidents.

Only 8 per cent of psychologists and counsellors surveyed reported no incidents of overparenting.

QUT PhD researcher Judith Locke, a and former teacher, said although 'helicopter' and 'lawnmower' parents were popular colloquial terms, her study proved that professionals recognised it was a problem.

"Parents are typically doing the best job they can do and this type of parenting is done with the best of intensions and out of love," she said.

"However, more effort doesn't necessarily produce a better child. There may be a point at which effort can become harmful."

Examples of excessive parenting cited in the study included a parent cutting up a 10-year-old's food, forbidding a 17-year-old to catch a train to school or confronting other parents about why their child was not invited to a 's birthday party.

Ms Locke said 'overparenting' could be classed into three categories:

  • Very high : a parent tries to become best friends with the child, thinks their child is always right, or is in constant contact with them;
  • Low demands on a child: a parent helps their child avoid an unpleasant life by driving them everywhere or catering to all of their requests, or a parent demands the child's school alters its policies in areas such as discipline to suit their child;
  • High demands on a child: a parent places high emphasis on their child's achievements in their school and social life and overschedules the child's time.
"Parenting professionals are concerned overparenting reduces a child's and life skills because they've never had to face any difficulties," Ms Locke said.

"It could also create a sense of entitlement in children. If they have someone constantly making their life perfect, they expect everybody to make their life perfect for them."

Ms Locke said the paper, which was published in the Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, showed that schools were struggling with the demands of overly enthusiastic parents.

"Experts are saying that the school then becomes responsible for the having a charmed life," she said.

"This is having a huge impact on schools. Not only are schools responsible for teaching students, but they have to manage ' extreme expectations as well."

Ms Locke said although overparenting had always existed, she believed it was more widespread.

"These days overparenting is virtually perceived as being ideal parenting," she said.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

ParentCorps helps children do better in school

Feb 04, 2011

Researchers at the NYU Child Study Center demonstrated that a brief program for families of Pre-Kindergarten students attending schools in disadvantaged urban communities improved children's behavior at school. The study, ...

Recommended for you

Some people may be pre-wired to be bilingual

5 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Some people's brains seem pre-wired to acquire a second language, new research suggests. But anyone who tries to move beyond their mother tongue will likely gain a brain boost, the small study ...

Elderly brains learn, but maybe too much

15 hours ago

A new study led by Brown University reports that older learners retained the mental flexibility needed to learn a visual perception task but were not as good as younger people at filtering out irrelevant ...

Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

17 hours ago

Sarah Liebherz (Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Sven Rabung (Institute of Psychology, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) have examined 59 studies conducted between 1977 ...

A game changer to boost literacy and maths skills

19 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Finding the best way to teach reading has been an ongoing challenge for decades, especially for those children in underprivileged areas who fail to learn to read. What is the magic ingredient that will ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.