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How strict parenting can impact children negatively? Experts share insights

Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Being an excellent parent takes even more effort because the most effective parenting techniques aren’t always innate. Many thoughtful parents believe that by setting and strictly enforcing boundaries, they are doing what is best for their children. Setting limits, dealing with consequences and giving your child tasks are all necessary to help them grow into well-rounded adults. While some parents emphasise control and unquestioning obedience, others may be overly strict in their pursuit of this goal.

While strictness is important, overly harsh parenting can have lasting negative effects on a child’s development. (Freepik)

Overly strict parenting leads to behavioural problems in children, even if you have to force them to obey for a while. In a 2015 study, researchers at the Royal University of Phnom Penh found that over 60% of students and staff suffered from anxiety or depression, with some attributing their condition to harsh parenting. Authoritarian parenting is rigid and associated with poor outcomes. These are the “because I said so” parents. They don’t want to talk about it or hear what their child has to say. We have talked with some experts to help you navigate the complicated journey of parenting with ease. (Also read: Does your child meltdown or misbehave at school? Here’s what you can do )

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Negative impact of strict parenting on children

In an interview with HT Digital Aashmeen Munjaal, Ontologist, Mental Health & Relationship Expert shared, “Overbearing expectations and limited attentiveness are typically characteristics of strict parenting. It may have repercussions on children’s growth and wellbeing that are severe and long-lasting. Although order and discipline are necessary for effective parenting, an overly rigorous approach might have unfavourable effects impacting the social, psychological, emotional, and mental well being of the child. First, in terms of the emotional impact, rigid parenting causes low self-esteem since it prioritizes restrictions and compliance over fostering a child’s sense of independence. It limits more than just living. It can also prevent them from taking initiatives and realising their full potential, in addition to limiting them to live up to stereotypes.”

She further shared, “Children under strict parenting are more likely to experience anxiety and psychological strain because they grow up in a constantly stressful setting. An emotionally crippling phobia of committing mistakes or suffering consequences might arise. This may also make it challenging to communicate feelings and emotions. Growing up in a rigid environment can make it difficult for kids to acquire social skills while contributing to a lack of interpersonal communication, which can make it difficult to establish and sustain relationships. Strictly raised children may find it difficult to relate to others on emotional grounds and may come across as distant or stiff to others.”

“Additionally, it has been indicated that this practice may unintentionally encourage children to rebel. As teens get older and come into contact with power with negative and restrictions, they may become more likely to be against authority figures. Adherence to conventions and processes is prioritised by strict parenting, which leaves minimal space for experimentation and originality. This restrictive atmosphere may hinder a child’s capacity to think logically and address situations with creativity, which can hamper cognitive development,” says Aashmeen.

She added, “Youngsters may turn away from their parents in an attempt to escape by pursuing independence and self-reliance. When they grow up, children raised in such an atmosphere typically become parents who use similar strict parenting techniques. This keeps up a generation-long pattern of rigorous parenting. Furthermore, strict parenting may worsen mental health problems in later life, by increasing the chances of depression, panic attacks, and a lowered sense of general wellbeing. While maintaining a certain degree of discipline is important, parents shouldn’t use techniques that will negatively affect the well being of their children. The process of parenting is enduring and requires empathy and a sense of duty.”

In a conversation with HT Digital, Shama Soni, philanthropist and founder of Ashhwika Foundation shared, “As a mother, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, my journey has been marked by a profound commitment to the well-being of my children and those in need. Today, I want to shed light on an aspect of parenting that I believe warrants a crucial conversation: the negative impact of strict parenting on our children’s holistic development. Strict parenting, while often well-intentioned, can unknowingly sow seeds of adversity in the fertile ground of a child’s psyche. The repercussions are far-reaching, affecting their emotional, social, and mental well-being.”

Shama further shared some negative impacts of strict parenting on children:

  • Low Self-Esteem: Strict parenting can cultivate an environment where children constantly feel their actions fall short, leading to a persistent sense of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
  • Validation Seeking: Children raised in a strict environment may develop an insatiable need for external validation, often seeking approval to fill the void created by a lack of positive reinforcement at home.
  • Reduced Empathy: The rigid nature of strict parenting may inadvertently hinder the development of empathy, as the focus often revolves around rules and consequences rather than understanding and compassion.
  • Relationship Struggles: Strained relationships with friends can emerge as children find it challenging to connect with peers due to a lack of social skills and the fear of authority figures.
  • Avoidance of Parents: In an attempt to escape the constant pressure and scrutiny, children may withdraw emotionally, avoiding open communication with parents and fostering a sense of isolation.
  • Depression and Anxiety: The cumulative effect of strict parenting can contribute to mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, as children grapple with the internal conflict of meeting high expectations.
  • Split Personality: Some children subjected to strict parenting may develop a split personality, showcasing one persona at home to adhere to rules and another outside to conform to societal expectations.

“It is crucial for parents to reassess their approach, fostering an environment that combines discipline with emotional support, encouragement, and open communication. As a mother deeply invested in the well-being of my children and others, I advocate for a parenting style that nurtures individuality, resilience, and empathy—a style that empowers children to thrive emotionally and socially. Let us, as parents, be mindful architects of our children’s futures, cultivating an atmosphere where they can blossom into confident, compassionate individuals, ” Shama concluded.


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