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by Michele Zipp
Most of us don't want to be a helicopter parent. It just sounds bad. And annoyingly loud. Choppy even. Hover parent? Sounds awful as well. Overprotective. Overbearing. No. No. No thanks. But the reality is, sometimes we are despite our best efforts. Parenting is confusing. We work it out, though. Try to figure out the best course of action while we react to each action -- terrible, mediocre, fantastic -- of our kids. Some days it feels that everything we do is wrong. And sometimes it really is.
Two studies have come out revealing that things we do to protect our kids can actually be hurting them. It could make them more susceptible to bullying and in other cases give them unhealthy views of food, in turn increasing their risk of being obese.
My parents made me and my sister members of the "clean plate club." Well, they wanted us to be. Sometimes we were. I was kind of anti that for my kids thinking I was forcing my little ones to eat. I thought that was bad. A new study out of the University of Minnesota says that kids who had food restrictions had more weight issues, and more cases of obesity. That's not good. Someone told me a story about how two siblings were never allowed to chew gum when they were kids. They wanted gum so bad that they would find some under restaurant tables and chew that. "Food" restriction gone wrong.
So what exactly does food restriction mean? There are those of us who tell our kids they can't have juice or candy or chocolate and really stick by that rule. My world is currently crumbling. I am that mom. No juice! No sweets! I even scolded my in-laws when they sent a motherload of candy and chocolate for Easter and hid every piece, eating them myself or sending them to friends who eat it. I am screwing up my kids because of this when I thought I was protecting them from rotted teeth and bellies full of garbage. But creating too many of these "don't eat that" or "you can't eat this" sets unhealthy views of food. Instead we should tell them to eat (healthy choices of course), get them more involved in the food shopping and cooking, maybe even create a clean plate club. Noted.
And now about this bullying business.
In studies from England's University of Warwick, it was discovered that the kids of overprotective moms and dad were 10 percent more likely be victims of bullying. Essentially they feel that if parents are constantly intervening or not letting the child explore things on their own, they won't be able to stand up for themselves or be assertive enough. No autonomy. The researchers said, however, that we should still be involved and supportive, and of course show love and affection as it has positive outcomes on our kids. Doubly noted.
Until the next study comes out and tells us something different.
What do you think of these studies? Do you think being overprotective could make your child more apt to be bullied? What do you think about the food restriction study?