10 Ways to Stop Micromanaging Your Kids Before You Become a Permanent Helicopter Parent
It's great to be an involved parent, but once that passion turns into overbearing behaviors, you need to take a major step back — both physically and mentally. Not only does micromanaging your child prevent him or her from maturing, it also keeps them from learning vital problem-solving skills, independence, and important life lessons. Instead of being the helicopter parent on the playground, learn how to redirect those overbearing impulses before your fears turn into anxiety or depression in your child. These are 10 important tips that will help you to stop hovering over your child before they become too dependent.
Recognize the Signs
The first step to changing your micromanaging behavior is to recognize what things you're doing that are completely unnecessary or overbearing. Isolate the hovering tendencies that you'd like to change and focus on one key behavior at a time.
Focus on the Positives
If you spend your time analyzing every scary thing that could possibly happen, you're going to constantly live in worry, and that fear will rub off on your child. Instead of going to a negative space, focus on identifying exciting aspects of each new opportunity for your kiddo and balance any gloomy dialogue with positive commentary.
Detach Worrying From Love
Christie Barnes, author of The Paranoid Parents Guide, recognizes that although a parent's controlling behavior comes from a place of love, some moms and dads need to learn other ways to express that care. "There's almost a feeling that if you're not worrying enough, there must be something wrong with you. Worrying feels like love," Barnes told CNN.
As soon as you start labeling your child, you begin using them to validate your micromanaging actions. Instead of thinking "I need to get involved because my son is shy" or "I need to get involved because my child isn't good at math," take a step back to evaluate what your child's needs actually are — and not what you assume they are based on the category you've determined them to fit in.
Physically Remove Yourself
An easy way to learn how often you get involved — and to stop it — is to physically remain farther away from your child. It's OK to be present as long as you stay quiet and give them attention only when they truly need it and not for every minor problem.
Find the Source
In order to help change your behavior, try to understand where it's coming from. Whether you realize that you're trying to make up for things that you missed in your childhood or are acting out of fear of not being able to protect them, it will be much easier to find a new balance of control once you figure out what's driving your overbearing tendencies.
Learn to accept (and maybe even enjoy!) some free time. Instead of feeling the need to constantly be hovering, allow yourself to be idle or focus on something else as your child explores unstructured play. This will also allow you to distinguish the difference between your compulsive needs to be involved or control and what your child actually needs from you.
Let Them Be in Control
Within reason, try shifting the balance and let them gain some independence. Whether you give options instead of orders or let them completely pick for themselves, try letting them assert some autonomy over what they wear, what they eat, or who they want to have a play date with. It's OK to discuss why they decided what they did, but be respectful of their opinion.
Hold Them to the Same Standards at Home
If your child is cutting his or her own food when eating dinner at a friend's house or tying their own shoes at school, there's no reason for you to be doing it for them at home. Doing everything for them at all times — especially when they are capable of doing it themselves — stunts your child's growth and harms them in the long run.
Don’t Go Running at Every Call
Don’t always rush to the rescue every time your child appears to be in distress or calls your name. Teach him or her some vital problem-solving skills by taking a deep breath and counting to 10 first. You'll be shocked to see what happens and how they can work things out for themselves when you aren't immediately over their shoulder, doing it for them.