The Effects of Coddling Children Too Much

by Laura Agadoni

    A mama’s natural instinct is to protect her young. This works wonderfully well with helpless newborn babies, but Mama needs to let go a little as Baby starts growing up. It’s natural to protect your child from being physically hurt, from being disappointed and from failing at school. But if you completely shield your little darling from life, you’re not teaching your child the valuable life skill of learning to rescue herself.

    Deprives Children

    Dr. Keith Ablow, psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, disliked the sports teams his children were on that awarded ribbons and trophies for merely participating, not for winning or mastering skills, which is a form of coddling. Ablow calls that practice a “dangerous charade” because when you reward mediocrity, you can “deprive children of striving to be their best.” Children who are coddled and praised just for breathing leads to them expecting praise as they grow up. When they don’t receive it, they can become angry and frustrated. Coddled kids tend to be dependent and frail, never learning to develop the skills and mental fortitude needed to really be a star in their area of choice.

    Makes Children Distrustful

    Ablow says that people, including small children, know when they’re being lied to. Telling your little one he’s a winner, that he’s the best on the team or that he’s the smartest preschooler who ever lived when he really isn’t can take away his spirit. Plus, if you lie to him about how great he is, he might then wonder if you really love him as much as you say you do. Parents do a greater service by preparing their child for the real world, where not everyone will be enamored of him, than they do by giving their child false praise.

    Makes Children Irresponsible

    Not assigning chores and overindulging kids are both forms of coddling. Parents think they are being kind, but their kids will likely grow up to be irresponsible and helpless, says Connie Dawson, coauthor of the book, “How Much is Enough?” in AZCentral.com. Coddling tends to produce spoiled kids who are whiny and demanding. They grow up with a sense of entitlement, expect to be the center of attention and are unrealistic regarding their strengths and weaknesses. Coddling parents prevent their kids from growing up and becoming independent adults.

    Helicopter Parents

    Parents who do everything in their power to keep their children from failing are called helicopter parents, a term derived in the 1980s by college admissions officials who noticed the parents being more involved in the college application process than the students. Helicopter parents, by their hovering, deprive children of the thrill of new adventures and of how to deal with defeat. Children raised this way grow up expecting much from life but are unwilling to work to get there, says Dr. David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, a global network of neuroscientists. Kids between the ages of 3 and 5 years are ripe to learn how to deal with frustration and disappointment, says Elizabeth Crary, author of “Dealing with Disappointment” in AZCentral.com.

    About the Author

    Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images