If you take over every task, your toddler won't learn to solve his own problems.

Can Too Much Parental Involvement Be Bad?

by Sharon Perkins

If your friends call you a "helicopter parent," unfortunately it doesn't mean that you can fly. Helicopter parents are so named for their hovering characteristics -- hovering over their kids, that is. While toddlers certainly need supervision to prevent major disasters, too much hovering can hamper your child's natural desire to spread his wings and try new things on his own.

Positive Involvement

Involvement with your children is a good thing, as long as you strike the right note between doing everything for your kids and doing lots of things with your kids. Spending time with your toddler, teaching him words and concepts, playing with him on his level, letting him experience frustration so he can try to work out problems on his own and standing back while he tries new things are all positive types of involvement.

Signs of Overinvolvement

If you don't let your toddler take a step out of your sight, even in your own home, you might be a bit of a helicopter. If you live in a typical house, you can arrange at least one room in the house for your toddler to be safe on his own for a few minutes, without you there to choose his toys, fix a problem the second he becomes frustrated or constantly play with him so that he never learns to entertain himself or spend time choosing his own activities.

Long-Term Risks

You might think you're doing your child a favor by clearing his path, praising him constantly and making life easy for him, but studies show otherwise. Carol Dweck, a social and developmental psychologist at Stanford University, reports that kids who are praised and told how smart they were are less likely -- not more -- to tackle more difficult challenges, according to a 2012 article in "The New York Times." Kids who aren't allowed to make their own mistakes never learn how to fix them. Constant praise can put pressure on your toddler to always raise the bar; rather than try and fail, he might walk away and give up. And when your toddler toddles off to college, he might have problems adjusting without you to run interference for him, including increased depression and anxiety, Indiana University psychologist Chris Meno warns in an IU News Room article.

Benefits of Changing Your Ways

Children whose parents are attentive but not overinvolved develop more confidence in their own abilities and are more willing to try new things. Decreasing your involvement in your toddler's every move also has benefits for you; when you feel less responsible for your child's happiness and success every minute, you might find yourself enjoying him more -- and maybe even having a little time for yourself.

About the Author

A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.

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