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BREAK AWAY FROM BEING A CONTROLLING PARENT: TIPS FOR PARENTS

Research suggests that being a controlling parent has a negative impact on how children view their parents and is just not a healthy place to be in, neither for parents nor children.


A controlling parent excessively restricts a child's freedom from making their own decisions or even think for themselves. From how they dress, to what they eat, how they act and speak, what activities to participate in, which college and what major to pick. Their days and lives are structured based on what their parents want with absolute disregard for how the child feels and thinks.


Parents tend to take on the controlling parent role because it might seem to be the more structured thing to do, and might even seem easier to handle, filtering out opinions and thoughts, especially from the child.


Being a controlling parent can have an adverse effect on children and can promote a totally opposite behaviour of whatever we hope for the child to learn by controlling them. As a parent, it's tempting to want to control every aspect of their lives, but this can actually limit their growth and create tension in the parent-child relationship.


Constantly being in a controlled environment can be harmful to a child's emotional and mental well-being. It can affect their self-esteem, and self-confidence, and may even lead to anxiety and depression. Overall it stifles the child's autonomy and hinders their personal growth.


No matter how well-meaning we intend to be by controlling our children, it hardly ever ends well. And even well-meaning, caring parents can veer into the controlling zone ever so often without even realising it.


Here are some of the characteristics of a controlling parent :-


1- The constant need to micromanage their child


2 - Lack of trust in their child's ability to make decisions or behave in a proper manner


3 - Constantly criticising their child, instead of giving them encouragement or extending praise.


4 - Using guilt, fear or even shame to control their child's behaviour


5 - They have this need to have their child rely on them for everything, relinquishing the child's own need for independence


6 - Imposing strict rules and high expectations on their child without any room for compromise


7 - They are overprotective of their child and keep them from taking risks that children naturally do to

learn



controlling parent

If you realise that you have been a bit heavy on controlling your child, here are some tips on what you can do to break away from being a controlling parent.




01 - Acknowledge your controlling behaviour

You've taken the first step once you acknowledge that you are a controlling parent and realise that it's not a healthy space to be in, for yourself and your child.


Once you acknowledge your behaviour, you can take some time to reflect on the reason behind your controlling behaviour. List them down so you are better able to understand the why's before you venture into the hows.




02 - Set boundaries for your child and give them space

Boundaries are a need for children whilst gently teaching them the do's and don't or what's allowed or what's not.


Setting boundaries for your child and giving them space involves finding a balance between providing structure and support, while also allowing for independence and growth. Start by clearly communicating your expectations and rules, and consistently enforcing consequences for breaking them.


At the same time, allow for age-appropriate independence and decision-making within those boundaries. Be flexible and open to adjusting boundaries as your child grows and matures. Provide positive reinforcement for following rules and respecting boundaries. It's also important to respect your child's privacy and personal space, allowing them to have their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences without constant interference or control.


By setting clear boundaries and giving your child the space they need, you foster independence, responsibility, and self-confidence.


Remember it's also in their nature to test these boundaries and when they do, be kind when reacting.




03 - Give your child as much independence as you possibly can

I've always had difficulty in letting go and giving independence but I have learnt to take the lead from my son. I know that when he pushes boundaries, he is ready to take the next step in wanting more independence.


It is safe to say that at every age or stage of a child's growth, parents should extend independence to their child that is age appropriate. It allows them to learn and grow.


Try to adopt a supportive and empowering approach, giving your child the freedom to make decisions and learn from their mistakes, while still setting clear boundaries and rules. Cultivating patience and trust in your child's abilities will help you move towards a more positive and healthy parenting style.



loving parent



04 - Let your child voice their opinions freely

A child learns everything they should be learning from the safe space of home and their parents. Let them voice their opinions without any judgement, ridicule or shame.


They are merely children so when listening to them voicing their thoughts, bear this in mind.




05 - Respect your child

Respecting your child involves treating them as individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions, listening to them and taking their concerns seriously, acknowledging and respecting their boundaries and privacy, treating them with dignity, kindness, and fairness, and supporting their goals and aspirations.


It also involves allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them, encouraging and valuing their input and ideas, giving them the space and freedom to be themselves, and modelling respect in your own behaviour and interactions with your child.


By respecting your child, you create a positive and supportive environment that fosters trust, independence, and healthy relationships.



06 - Practising empathy helps

Put yourself in your child's shoes and try to see things from their perspective. Practising empathy will allow you to be more compassionate and understanding towards your child and any situation you might find yourself in.



parent listening to child


07 - Have patience

Changing from a controlling parent that you are used to being to not being one will take time and a lot of effort requiring patience and a shift in mindset. It is essential to learn to be patient, with yourself as well as your child.




08 - Respect your child

Respecting your child involves treating them as individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions, allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them, encouraging and valuing their input and ideas, giving them the space and freedom to be themselves, listening to them and taking their concerns seriously, acknowledging and respecting their boundaries and privacy, treating them with dignity, kindness, and fairness, and supporting their goals and aspirations.


It's important to remember that respect is a two-way street and to model respect in your own behaviour and interactions with your child.




09 - Practice self-awareness

Practising self-awareness involves paying attention to your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and how they impact your interactions with your child.


This involves examining your biases, triggers, and past experiences, and how they influence your need to control your child. By being self-aware, you can identify and work through any unproductive patterns of behaviour and emotions, and develop a more positive and effective approach to parenting.


Practising self-awareness helps you understand your own needs and reactions, which in turn will allow you to parent from a place of clarity and calm, and to create stronger and more meaningful relationships with your child.



Final Thoughts.

In conclusion, being a controlling parent can have negative effects on a child's growth and development, and can damage the parent-child relationship.


To avoid this, it's important to practice empathy, respect, and self-awareness in parenting, and to set clear boundaries while also allowing for independence and personal space. Moving away from a controlling parenting style requires patience and a shift in mindset, but the end result is a more positive, supportive, and healthy environment for both parent and child.


By adopting these practices, parents can foster independence, responsibility, and self-confidence in their children, and strengthen the bond of trust and love in the parent-child relationship.


Do you have issues with being controlling towards your child?


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