How to Tell if You Over-Nurture Your Anxious Child

Whether you call it over-nurturing, over-parenting or over-indulgence, hovering around your anxious child like a helicopter may feel like the right thing to do. In reality, however, it’s really not. This type of behavior can actually hinder anxious children’s growth and prevent them from being ready to face the world when they have no other choice but to face it.

Over-nurturing can be defined as being persistently over-involved in your anxious child’s life. Perhaps you’re taking on tasks your son should be doing for himself, giving your daughter everything she wants whenever she wants it, or ensuring your children are always entertained.

Parents can also fall into the trap of constantly hovering around their anxious children to serve as a barrier between their children and any stress, frustration or other seemingly negative experiences.

Signs of Over-Nurturing

Parents who over-nurture their children are known to engage in certain behaviors the majority of the time. Most of the time, they:

  • Are involved in every single thing their child does.
  • Give their child extensive attention.
  • Become upset when they witness frustration in their child.
  • Do things for their children the children should be doing for themselves.
  • Anticipate what their child needs and provide it, even before the child asks.
  • Seek out and schedule tons of activities in which they have their children participate.
  • Insist their children’s activities need to be fun.
  • Make sure their children are entertained at every moment of every day, looking for things their children can do if they complain about boredom.

Over-Nurturing by the Numbers

If you can identify with many signs of over-nurturing, you’re not alone. Statistics reported in Psychology Today help point out the extent to which over-parenting happens in America.

  • 43 percent: Parents who do their child’s homework
  • 62 percent: Parents who admit they can be overprotective
  • 30 percent: College job recruiters who have received resumes submitted by a student’s parents
  • 15 percent: College job recruiters who have had a parent complain when their child was not hired
  • 12 percent: College job recruiters who have had a parent call to set up an interview for their college-age child
  • 37 percent: Families that spend more than $1,000 per child annually on after-school activity fees, with 20 percent spending more than $2,000
  • 41 percent: Children aged 9 to 13 who feel constantly stressed out because they have too much to do

While over-nurturing has become a way of life for many households, it doesn’t have to stay that way. The solution is to step back, with love, and let your anxious child learn how to live. Mistakes are great teachers, as are parents. Make sure your child knows how to perform simple, age-appropriate chores and completes them regularly.

Instead of immediately providing a solution to any problem that comes along, let your anxious child think out the problem for himself. Small changes in over-parenting behavior can have a big impact on the development and growth of your anxious child, helping him or her become more independent, less stressed and better ready to face the world when that time comes.