Approach the parent with no assumptions -- he might truly believe he has his child's best interests in mind.

How to Help Kids With Overbearing Parents

by A. Low

We've all seen them: the mom that relentlessly monitors her child's activity, the dad who screens his daughter's phone calls or the parent who pushes a child to his limit to excel in sports. A 2012 "Journal of Adolescence" study found that overbearing, or authoritarian, parents are more likely than any other type of parent to raise children who engage in delinquent behavior.

1 Identify why the parent is overbearing. Often, overly controlling parents were raised in a similar way, so it's the only parenting technique they know. If the cause is something deep-seeded, professional intervention might be necessary -- a family counselor or psychologist might be able to help the parent heal from his own maltreatment.

2 Ask the parent to examine whether she thinks her parenting style is helpful or harmful to her child, and why. Sometimes voicing intentions and looking at the reality of the circumstance might be enough for a parent to recognize what she might need to change about her behavior.

3 Provide facts to the authoritarian parent. According to the University of New Hampshire, even the best intentions of authoritarian parenting -- to protect one's child, for example -- often backfire and cause kids to rebel more. On the other hand, overbearing parents can create dependent children who can never fully flourish as self-sufficient adults. Also, alert the parent that physical punishment has been shown to cause aggressiveness and poor self-esteem in children, and it's largely ineffective as a discipline tool.

4 Imagine the future. If the overbearing parent has a young child, explain that keeping a child on such tight reins will often cause a child to want to rebel and pull away more. Because teenagers have a developmental need to assert their independence, a strong-willed parent can stand in the way of a teen's healthy growth.

Tip

  • Understand the difference between an authoritative and authoritarian parent. According to Cornell University, authoritative parents set rules and boundaries for their children, but these are built on a foundation of mutual respect and love. This type of parenting is most effective because it provides structure and safety but doesn't thwart the child's growth and exploration. The authoritarian parent, on the other hand, is unbending, does not value a child's input and withholds affection.

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