So we began exploring how do we know/if or when we might be being a bit ‘overprotective’

A … about Anxiety

Anxiety is basically a feeling of apprehension/reluctance/fear/misgiving about some future outcome. This feeling comes with some sort of biological and/or behaviour response. It shows up then in either doing things or avoiding doing things.

For children between the ages of 5-12 especially anxiety goes against their natural developmental tendencies which is to explore, learn and build a sense of industry (satisfaction with getting things done).

So how could ‘overprotection’ move children away from industry and toward a general anxiety?

Scenario 1:

Tracey (not her real name) was the baby in the family. Her brothers and sisters were a decade and some older than her. Her mom experiences some difficulties and was very particular about ‘preparing’ Tracey for the World she must face and the types of people she would meet. To do this mom made sure that Tracey got a strong religious background, emphasizing that the ‘God of the Universe’ would deal with ‘wicked people’. Now, Tracey came to the office because she was not doing as well in school as mom desired and could do better according to her teacher. Meeting Tracey, one thing was clear, she understood that the World was a very dangerous place with lots of wicked people. She understood that she should ‘guard’ herself from ‘evil influences’. But what was more was that the lightness that usually comes with being a child was lost. What was happening? In mom’s desire to protect and teach spirituality, Tracey was being drained of … openness to experience, a sense of safety, trust vs. general mistrust, and so she could hardly be free enough, keep energy enough to focus on her ‘work’, her school work.

For industry, children need to feel like a child and part of that is the sort of bliss (sheltering from some harshness as it were) so that they could get on with the business of their day … their school work..etc.

Scenario 2: This one would be kept short.

Chad looked on at what was taking place in the home between his parents. He knew his parents “pretended” as if everything was alright for his sake. Chad was underperforming in school. In chatting with Chad it became clear that ironically his parents attempts to ‘protect’ him from what was happening was causing the opposite response. Chad ‘did not want to turn out like his dad’. He came to the conclusion that mom was frustrated and disappointed and he thought eventually ‘they would split’. Even though Chad is an older child, being a young teen, his reasoning remained as a child and without realizing it he was choosing to ‘stop working on his work…schoolwork’ almost as if in some way this might ‘solve’ the problem. But more importantly it was Chad’s way of dealing with his anxiety of becoming a man he could not like.

Sometimes in ‘protecting’ children from what is already obvious to them, the reverse happens because children do tend to come with very active imaginations.

So if you notice that general anxiety or a tendency to not be as interested in their activities (school work etc.) chances are there is some sort of anxiety about the future in one way or the other…

Share this post on: