The Psychological Effects of Strict and Overprotective Parents

Parenting children often means finding a middle ground between a permissive style and being overly protective. The possible results of strict or overprotective parenting could be negative for children, both during childhood and even into adulthood. A restrictive and controlling parenting style might create issues with the way children respond to parents and to others, warns extension associate Kimberly Kopko, with the Cornell University Cooperative Extension.


The strict parent who places high demands on a child may unwittingly create a situation where the child becomes overly dependent on parents, warns the Niagara Region Public Health website. As the parent stays involved and engaged in every activity and decision, the child may not learn skills necessary to think independently and make decisions apart from parental input and advice. The child may feel she needs parents to always provide guidance, analyze situations and steer decisions.

Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

As a child becomes so overly dependent on the advice and guidance of parents, he may develop issues with self-confidence and feeling capable of success. The youngster may protect himself from a fear of failure by not taking chances or trying new things. Over-protective parents can protect a child to the point where he never learns how to persevere and keep trying when obstacles and challenges occur, advises psychologist Robyn Silverman.

Self-Discipline and Responsibility

The overly strict parent can interfere with a child’s development of self-discipline and responsibility, according to psychologist Laura Markham, with the Aha! Parenting website. Because parents assume responsibility for controlling the child’s behavior and actions, the child misses the opportunity to develop these internal regulation skills that help her discipline herself in various situations. For example, a parent who schedules all of a child’s free time doesn’t allow the child to develop the self-discipline necessary to stay positively busy in an independent fashion. It’s also common for overly strict parenting to create a resistance to responsibility in children, stemming from feelings of a lack of control.

Aggression and Rebellion

A common theme with strict and overprotective parenting involves a lack of empathy and unresponsiveness between the parents and the child, states the Weber State University Child and Family Studies website. In response to these unreasonable expectations, children often become unhappy, withdrawn and even aggressive. A child might act out this aggression toward parents by rebelling. The youngster might also have trouble interacting with peers and he may have behavior problems at school.

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