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11 Telltale Signs of a Controlling Parent That is Hurting a Child’s Development

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Exercising restraint as a parent to avoid becoming a controlling parent requires considerable self-discipline, but it is essential. Children require guidance and structure, but it should never evolve into complete control over every facet of their lives, rendering them mere puppets of their parents. Attempting to dictate a child’s actions and thoughts is detrimental and creates a co-dependent, timid human.

Here’s how to know if you’re a controlling parent and how to set your child free.

1. They Think They’re Perfect

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A controlling parent rarely allows themselves to be seen as human, opting for the illusion of perfect. They position themselves as the ultimate authorities, rejecting the notion that they could ever be mistaken.

Consequently, the child can develop a belief that they are devoid of knowledge and may suffer from severely diminished self-esteem when they inevitably make mistakes.

2. They Dictate The Kids’ Actions

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A child of a controlling parent does not get the chance to act independently at all; the parents dictate all their actions and expect them to obey without question.

Any questions asked are regarded as disobedience and may even be punished.

3. They Set Unrealistic Expectations

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Setting standards for children is an excellent way to ensure they live up to their potential and become the best they can be. However, these benchmarks must remain grounded in reality. Unfortunately, controlling parents often lack a gauge for discerning when these expectations veer into the realm of unattainability.

Consequently, the child finds themselves constantly striving for goals that perpetually elude their grasp.

4. Constantly Criticizing the Child

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To a controlling parent, the child’s choices are often wrong and below par.

You know you’re on the controlling parent path when none of your child’s choices make you happy, and you constantly wish they had followed your preferred options.

5. Use Of Negative Language to Influence Behavior

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Controlling parents resort to the use of negative language as a means of influencing their child’s behavior. They believe criticism will motivate the child to excel or avoid perceived pitfalls.

This approach often stems from their own anxieties and desire for control. It can result from a misguided belief that instilling fear or doubt is a form of protection.

6. Offering Unsolicited Advice

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Children occasionally need help when they seem over their heads with an activity or problem. Parents should let their kids try and work at problem-solving before offering any help.

Controlling parents do not let their kids struggle for a minute; they always rush with advice and solutions.

7. They Do Not Respect Privacy

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Privacy is an alien word in the world of a parent craving for some control over their child.

Controlling parents may struggle with boundaries and have difficulties recognizing that their child is an individual with their own needs for personal space. This behavior can result from a well-intentioned desire to be involved, but it erodes trust and stifles the child’s development.

8. They Don’t Consider The Child’s Perspective

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Children have an opinion and a perspective, especially in matters affecting them. A controlling parent believes their perspective is always superior and wants strict control over the child’s actions and decisions.

This may, in the long term, hinder the child’s emotional development and their ability to make independent decisions.

9. They Are Not Empathetic

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Raising a wholesome child calls for a child to empathize with the child’s emotions, but a controlling parent lacks this empathy.

They focus on maintaining control, which can lead them to prioritize their desires and views over their children’s.

10. They Set Erratic Rules

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Rules keep changing when a controlling parent makes them, and the child barely knows the new rules or how to follow them.

They might not clearly understand their parenting values or may be influenced by societal pressures, causing their rules to fluctuate.

11. Because I said So …

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Many parents have used this line on their kids to get them to stop asking the many “whys.” When it’s said more often than not, that’s a clear way to know that you’re being a controlling parent.

Kids ask questions because they want reasons for the rules laid out, and helping them understand is better than requiring blind obedience.


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