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Overprotected children are more fragile

June 1, 2018

Learning to make mistakes and manage risk is important. This is why new research in the field of education has shown that keeping children under a glass bell is not the right way to go: in the long run it does not help them to become free and independent. The “mother hen” model may save them from some scratching or scraping of the knee, but the risk is to make them become fragile and dependent adults. We talk about this topic with Dr. Marco Nuara, pediatrician of San Pio X Humanitas.


The ‘always present’ parent model rejected

It is recommended to focus on free style, because the unexpected helps to grow. Adults must supervise children from afar. It is not good to have overprotective parents who are prepared to control their children without ever letting them be free. On the contrary, it is an obstacle to the peaceful development of children. Free play, on the other hand, teaches ‘the rules of life’ and develops skills for managing risk.


Obsession with safety

Today we are obsessed with safety and often prevent our children to face any risk of coming to terms with reality. Adventure is a component that seems lost in the days of the youngest. Planning everything in their lives is not good. The adult must be there to watch, but from afar. Children need to develop the right skills to be healthy and here too parents can help them at the right distance. Overprotected children are at risk of becoming anxious and disinterested young people. Curiosity and the ability to socialize, on the other hand, allow children to grow freely.

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“It is difficult for the parent who assists not to intervene in helping the child in apparent difficulty or not to defend him from the bully at school or not to contribute to socialization by making ritual presentations and questions – says Dr. Marco Nuara. In this way, however, we deprive the child of the freedom to act, to express himself, to fantasize, to interact, to experiment, and to manage the unexpected. Instead, these are important moments for growth and the acquisition of autonomy”.


Experiencing freedom

Why is the experience of freedom so important? The reason seems to be that parental hypercontrol leads to the development of addiction. According to a study conducted in the United States by Peter Gray, one of the world’s leading experts on the subject, adolescents who were not let free to experiment became depressed adults who were less able to take initiatives or make decisions. Those of their peers who had such experiences became more resolved, more enterprising adults, and there were fewer people with drug addiction problems among them.


“Excessive interference from the parents certainly influences the action of the child, who instead of acting freely, even in the game will try to behave in such a way as to please the adult – concluded the specialist. He will require the intervention of the adult to every obstacle, without ever conquering his own autonomy of decision and action. This translates into a profound insecurity and fragility of the child in the face of difficulties”.


“Children learn everything from us parents, they observe and imitate us: there is no better way to educate them than setting a good example. This will be enough for the children to behave as we would like, from a young age, without the need to intervene at times when they can and must get by on their own.

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