Some of the foundations of healthy mental well-being include confidence and self-esteem. This begs the question: Can children develop such attributes in an overprotective environment? How much of a role does independence play in preventing future mental health struggles? Long before the lockdowns, a generation of kids was being raised indoors — quite often staring at a screen.
This quest for safety has ironically created a whole new range of dangers. This limits the opportunities for them to learn how to navigate risks. It restricts their decision-making skills to pushing buttons on a device. Meanwhile, children are not being encouraged to explore their curiosity by experiencing independence.
The Trap of “Safety”
A modern parent’s fixation on safety can have more than a few deleterious effects on their children. The most obvious is an encouragement of anxiety. Every day, normal risks are viewed with the same fear as serious dangers. This keeps the child and parent in an unhealthy state of hyper-vigilance.
But the more subtle — yet damaging — impact relates to what the children may be missing. A parent can elevate any of the countless priorities for their kids. For example, they could emphasize creativity, experiential learning, imagination, or even independence. When safety is at the top of the list, however, those other experiences and traits suffer.
Schedules become overcrowded and heavily supervised. Time for exploration decreases dramatically. As a result, there are some palpable costs for the children.
Some of What More Independence Can Create For Kids
Learning to develop new skills and solve problems on your own is a major rung on the ladder to self-confidence. In turn, more rungs are created, and the child can continue to climb. In addition, a little less reliance on the oversight of adults allows children to practice collaboration. When they are allowed to be less dependent on grown-ups, they learn to rely on themselves and on each other. As these children grow into adulthood, they may gain more of the attributes needed to sustain a healthy state of mind.
2. Tolerance For Struggle
Life can be very frustrating at times. It is a vital lesson to prepare children for the inevitable ups and downs that lie ahead. Independence empowers them to:
- Become self-sufficient in times of distress
- Learn from experiences that do not result in success
- Use discomfort as a path toward growth and problem-solving
- Cultivate the essential skill of patience
- Build resilience
- Take responsibility for their own words and actions
3. Hearing and Developing Their Own Voice
No two people live the same way. No two people should live the same way. Independence puts kids in touch with themselves. This enables them to find and trust their own voice. No parent wants their child to be a cog in the machine. Ironically, the overprotective nature of a “helicopter” style of parenting can reduce a kid’s ability to refine and hone their individuality.
Restricting your child’s independence — by definition — embeds a sense of self-doubt when they are called upon to make their own decisions. If everything is planned and decided for them, a child does not exercise their choice-making muscles. By default, they may fall back on what appears to be “safe.” Without independence, a child doesn’t learn how to overcome their fears. As a result, this can also ironically bring us back to #3 above.
How Do You Know How Much Independence is Enough? Begin Working With Counselors in Columbus Ohio
There are no how-to manuals for something like this. But you can develop the insight you need by committing to your own journey through therapy. Your weekly sessions with a professional guide are the ideal place to question old patterns while creating new approaches. Our team would be happy to offer support from our Columbus, OH–based practice. You can start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:
- Contact Blue Boat Counseling by using the button below
- Meet with a caring therapist
- Begin receiving the treatment you deserve!
OTHER THERAPY SERVICES OFFERED WITH BLUE BOAT COUNSELING
Our team at Blue Boat Counseling knows that you may be dealing with more than one mental health concern at a time. This is why we are happy to offer a variety of mental health services in addition to family therapy. We offer anxiety therapy, depression therapy, and military veteran therapy. We are also happy to offer teen therapy and online therapy across the state of Ohio. Visit our blog to learn more today for helpful info.