Dangers of the Overprotective "Safety Bubble"

Dangers of the Overprotective "Safety Bubble"

Last update: 16 October, 2015

There is a new and interesting social label out there known these days as the “hover mother.” Some of our readers may be able to identify with this term or possibly know someone who exhibits this kind of behavior. “Hover mothers” or “helicopter moms” are mothers (but can also be fathers) who are always involved in every aspect of their children’s daily activities, whether they be 6 or even 15 years old.

When their children come home, these parents will review each one of their child’s school assignments, exams, quizzes and homework that they had while in school that day. Obviously, it is very important to look after these types of responsibilities in our children’s lives, however, this does not mean being completely obsessed with every single action or academic obligation that the child has. Although we may not mean to, “hovering” in this way can keep our children from developing their own appropriate independence, causing them to be totally dependent instead.

“The thing is, if I don’t stay on top of them, my child won’t do anything.” Sound familiar? The truth is, we aren’t giving the child a chance to even try it for themselves. These “helicopter parents” are constantly “hovering” over their children by supervising, spying on, and taking care of every, single thing they do.

Through these actions, we as parents end up, in essence, not allowing our children to become mature, self-sufficient adults. We end up denying them many opportunities by constantly co-habiting in their personal space until we’ve created a type of “bubble” around them.

The overprotection of children today

According to experts, modern day children have much less freedom than in previous generations.

We can see an example of this in those parents who carry their children to their seats when they are already perfectly capable of walking. These parents prefer carrying their children instead of letting them walk on their own, “because it’s more comfortable.” But what will happen to these kids when they start elementary school? Professionals in pre-school education confirm that they are seeing children who are a bit more “clumsy,”  who have still not finished developing their fine motor skills. 

Children between the ages of 6 and 8 have been found to throw tantrum after tantrum, just because they were not offered what they wanted. These children are incapable of dealing with frustrations or any type of negativity.

But why does this happen? What’s behind all of this overprotection? Mainly, it’s parents’ fear that something bad will happen to their child. Therefore, these parents experience an almost obsessive need to have every aspect of their child’s life “under control.” They do everything to ensure that their children live perfect lives without any kind of accidents or mistakes.

That being said, at times the unattainable aspiration to be the “perfect mother or father” can end up working to our disadvantage. We can end up creating a hated relationship within our children that is just as complex as it is traumatic. There is no such thing as a perfect education or upbringing. All we need to do, as parents, it to simply be there for our children when needed; to serve as guides, aid in support, and offer up our love and care day by day in a way that encourages our children to develop their own emotional maturity.


When the overprotective bubble bursts

Sooner or later, it happens. The child could be twelve or twenty, but there will ultimately come a time when that protective bubble bursts as they go out into the world. But instead of meeting this experience with a sense of wonder and potential, these kids have an awful fear of the “outside world” because everything that surrounded them in the world that was built up  for them had always been protected.

This leads to feelings of insecurity and anxiety, as the child feels like everyone is watching them. It’s very probable that they could suffer from bullying or instead react to these threats with an awareness of their own vulnerability.

Expert have even shown that children who are overprotected have a greater tendency to develop allergies. All of this can be due to the child’s emotions or stress levels, which are always associated with a lowered immune system that can be frequently affected by some type of illness.

In turn, these illnesses end up being an even bigger reason to justify the parents’ continuous “overprotection” which creates a never-ending vicious cycle. However, this doesn’t mean that these children are inevitably doomed to be eternally immature and, consequently, unhappy.

If children have solid self-esteem and know how to respond, in time many of them will be able to break these chains and go on to improve and learn for themselves.

These days, we live in a world where information is very readily accessible. Life is about opening up and stepping out of this comfort zone; we must have the courage to leave our bubbles.

We are used to hearing professors, psychologists and educators frequently say that we should “push” children through the doorway of maturity, but there are times when the children’s parents are on the other side keeping this from happening.

We don’t have to be afraid. Children are quite resilient and need to grow up with opportunities to learn on their own if we are able to guide without restricting them with overprotective barriers.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.