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Is your parenting style making your child less developed?

Is your Parenting style good or bad?

In contemporary times, particularly among mothers, many parents refrain from allowing their children to engage in unsupervised outdoor play, closely monitoring their activities while playing with friends. This modern approach to parenting has generated considerable strain on parents and, paradoxically, may not be optimal for their children’s development.

What Research says

A recent study conducted at the University of Essex sheds light on how constant parental surveillance hampers children’s ability to partake in “spontaneous play,” potentially impinging on their holistic growth and maturation. This research underscores the transformation in parental expectations over the years.

Freedom for autonomous play

Dr. John Day, the author of the study, remarked, “Until approximately the 1990s, parents were not obligated to consistently entertain and supervise their children in the same manner as today. Consequently, children had greater freedom for autonomous play.” He further noted that the transformation is a result of a heightened sense of parental responsibility for their children’s advancement.

The Impact of Health Concerns 

Published in the ‘Sociology of Health & Illness’ journal, the study conducted by Dr. Day, who is associated with Essex’s School of Health and Social Care, involved detailed interviews with 28 individuals born between 1950 and 1994 in the UK. Parents born after the late 1960s, who entered parenthood during the early 1990s, encountered pressure to ensure their children’s physical activity due to health concerns. However, this surge in active supervision led to a reduction in opportunities for unstructured play. Consequently, the upswing in structured physical activities among children ran parallel to the decline in spontaneous play.

Dr. Day clarified that increased apprehensions regarding stranger danger and heightened road traffic have limited children’s chances for unstructured outdoor activities. The study also highlighted the contemporary parental expectation of dedicating more time to “observing, noticing, and responding to their children’s desires and behaviors.”

The implications of this trend are manifold. The constant vigilance of parents curtails children’s opportunities for independent play, thereby restricting their capacity to learn about risks and challenges inherent in outdoor activities. In addition, the digital age has prompted children to opt for sedentary screen time over physical play with peers.

Addressing the issue, Dr. Day noted, “Parents are simultaneously encouraged to spend extensive time with their children while also being evaluated on the level of independence their children exhibit. However, the most meaningful learning about autonomy occurs when children willingly take calculated risks, and these invaluable opportunities are dwindling.”

Timely identification is key

Identifying signs of overprotective parenting becomes crucial in countering this trend. Although safeguarding a child is a parental duty, excessive vigilance can inadvertently hinder their development. Signs of overprotective parenting include perpetual hovering, excessive control over activities, fearing minor risks, evading challenges, excessive worrying, and constraining independence. Other indicators encompass dictating communication, making decisions without consulting the child, disproportionate reactions to setbacks, and shielding them from failures.

Hence, the modern inclination toward vigilant parenting, especially regarding outdoor play, poses challenges to children’s independence and holistic development. The University of Essex study underscores the need to strike a balance between safeguarding and enabling children to explore and learn from unstructured, spontaneous play, a vital aspect of their growth.

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