How to Avoid Being an Overly Controlling Parent

Being a parent isn't easy. Sometimes we try to control our children too much, keeping them from developing their own self-confidence, and forgetting that they need to make their own decisions.
How to Avoid Being an Overly Controlling Parent

Last update: 18 January, 2019

As parents, it’s understandable that we always want the best for our kids. But since they aren’t born with user’s manuals under their arms, we all definitely make mistakes, such as being an overly controlling parent.

Trying to monitor everything in reach and make sure everything turns out well, we are often too controlling instead of helpful. This is actually an obstacle to our children’s healthy development, which can lead to many problems.

Being a parent isn’t easy

Parenting is a complex process, and every child has their own personality that is molded as they grow up. Parents play a fundamental role in this process. However, if you’re an excessively controlling parent, your child’s development won’t be entirely natural.

Guide them along their own path, don’t dictate it

The important thing is for parents to understand that our kids have their own lives. Our job is to guide them along a good path, not to solve every problem they encounter. They grow up and need to know how to navigate each stage of their lives independently. 

By monitoring our kids too much and always seeking perfection, we don’t let them develop all their skills. By being an overly controlling parent, rather than helping, we’re actually inhibiting their development.

How to Avoid Being an Overly Controlling Parent

Don’t be a pushover either

This doesn’t mean we should do whatever our children say, letting them run our lives. There should be a balance. Kids need to learn that there are limits, and should be able to differentiate between a good situation and a bad one.

The idea is to have a harmonious relationship in which both the parents and the children feel comfortable and can enjoy being part of a family. Our attitudes as parents should always be positive, being firm when necessary. 

How children behave in response to a controlling parent

They generally seek dangerous situations in which they can experience the pleasure of challenging their parents. They’re kids who tend to have emotional deficiencies, constantly under a great deal of stress.

They often even feel sad or displaced, which can lead to the formation of fears that can become serious problems.

Low self-esteem

Children of an overly controlling parent often tend to have low self-esteembecause they believe they aren’t at the level their parent would like them to reach. They feel that they can’t do anything right, which tends to affect their interpersonal relationships.


They’re children who aren’t able to make decisions for themselves and often find it difficult to take on responsibilities. They hide from anything that makes them feel out of their limited comfort zone.

How to Avoid Being an Overly Controlling Parent

Build trust

We must learn to relate to our kids in an open way to be able to reach an appropriate level of trustKeep in mind that if your children don’t trust you, they’ll look for someone else, and it may not be the right person. This could lead them to bad decisions.

While they’re young, you have complete control. But as they grow up, they may take different paths than what we had planned for them.

Keep in mind that sooner or later your child won’t be little anymore, and will enter adolescence. Parents fear this stage because of the changes it brings along with it. The one who finds it most difficult is the controlling parent.

Your children will separate completely from everything they feel you control and will seek to express themselves in a completely unexpected way. 

As parents, we need to understand that our children don’t belong to us. We need to let them grow at their own pace and experience setbacks, but never letting them forget that we’ll always be there for them.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Baumrind, D. (1966). PARENTAL CONTROL EFFECTS OF AUTHORITATIVE. Child Development.
  • Bornstein, L., & Bornstein, M. (2014). Estilos Parentales y el Desarrollo Social del Niño. Development.
  • López, S. P., Mesa, J. L., & Linares, M. C. C. G. (2002). Los estilos educativos de los padres y la competencia psicosocial de los adolescentes. Anuario de psicología/The UB Journal of psychology, 79-95.

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