Micro-managing Children Has Negative Effects

More and more information on the case against micro-managing children shows up each day.

The next time your child has a playground dispute, it’s important to take a deep breath, pause, and think about the new findings published in the journal Developmental Psychology. The study of eight years confirmed the suspicions parents had for years. Hovering too close to your children to micromanage their interactions can be hurtful to their development.

Parents who recognize when their child can handle emotional situations on their own and step back are critical to the mental state and well being of children. While it may be difficult to stop yourself, kids that have micro-managing parents find it more difficult to know how to act, problem solve, or even socialize at school and among their peers.

The study followed 422 children, African-American and white, checking in with them at ages 2, 5, and 10. Data revolved around the observation of parent-child interactions, talking to teachers of the kids, and self-reports from the children at ten years old. While watching the children and parents play together, researchers kept tabs on which parents were helicoptering their children.

Those parents that guided their child continually, telling them what to play with, how to play with it, how to clean up, or just being too strict showed a variety of reactions. Some kids became defiant while others were apathetic. Even others showed frustration towards their parent’s persistence.

What Happens and Why Micro-managing is Bad for Children

Consequences from the hoovering treatment some parents gave their children reveal themselves later in the lives of the children. Those children who had better capacities of emotional regulation and impulse control around age 5 turned out to be more productive in school. They also had more friends by age 10. It was overwhelmingly these children that had parents that respected their children’s space and didn’t micromanage their every move.

According to Nicole Perry, Ph.D. and the lead author of the study, their research showed those with helicopter parents were less likely able to deal with the challenges that growing up demands. This factor is especially in consideration with the navigation of the involved school environment. Their findings highlighted the importance of educating parents on how to care emotionally for their children and respect their autonomy.

Wondering how to make sure you don’t fall into the category of helicopter parent? It’s actually quite simple even if it might not be easy to keep holding yourself back. First, set an example. Talk to kids in your life, asking how they’re feeling and how to use words to defuse a difficult situation. Teach them how to communicate with words what they want. If it’s difficult for the child, you can help them with positive coping strategies. Some examples the study suggest are deep breaths, music, coloring, or even some quiet alone time. Most squabbles on the playground resolve themselves in the same time it takes you to get back to your bench. It’s often more trouble than it’s worth getting up at every single spat you see on the playground.