Another downside to trying to over-control your child’s behavior has been discovered. Parents who do so may put their child at greater risk for obsessive behavior.
The new research examined 588 musicians and athletes, ages 6 to 38, who ranged from amateurs to experts in playing a piano or saxophone, or skiing or swimming. The researchers looked at how the participants practiced their hobby or sport, the person’s well-being, and how the parents supported the autonomy and independence of their child. Their findings?
“The more controlling parents are, the harder it is for the child to have a harmonious passion for their favorite activity,” said lead researcher Geneviève Mageau.
Her concept of supporting autonomy means allowing a child to face up to his or her responsibilities, while considering the child’s point of view and also providing answers to their questions without being authoritative.
“Youngsters with a harmonious passion had parents or an entourage that supported them, while those with an obsessive passion were raised in an oppressive environment,” she says.
Adults will often admit exercising abusive authority over their children, according to the study, and sometimes force a child to pursue an activity against their will.
“The child learns that by obeying their parents they will be loved,” said Mageau.
“The risk is that as adults they continue to pursue the activity to maintain their self-esteem.”
The study will be published this fall edition of the Journal of Personality.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Sep 2008
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2008). Parents’ Behavior Can Foster Obsessive Children. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 18, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/09/19/parents-behavior-can-foster-obsessive-children/