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Child rebelling? You might be parenting out of fear. Here are 5 ways to overcome it

Parenting out of fear isn’t good for our children, or ourselves.

Parenting is filled with love, joy, and, yes… worry. As parents, we often find ourselves worrying about our children’s safety and happiness. This worry stems from our deep love for them and our desire to protect them.

Studio 5 Parenting Contributor Heather Johnson says that when this worry turns into fear, it can have harmful effects on our parenting decisions and, ultimately, our children’s development.


Understanding Fear-Based Parenting

Heather explained what fear-based parenting looks like.

She said, “This is when we feel really anxious, and so we make our decisions based off of that anxiety. Anxiety in and of itself is being afraid of what could happen in the future and that I’m not going to have control.”

Fear-based parenting can manifest in various ways. It could be the fear of failure, the fear of our children getting hurt, the fear of not being enough, or the fear of our children making poor choices. When we make decisions from a place of fear, we often make choices that we are uncomfortable with in the long run and that do not align with our values or the lessons we want our children to learn.

Recognizing Fear-Based Parenting

How do we know if we are parenting out of fear?

Heather explained, “Oftentimes parenting out of fear means we’re really overprotective, and we try to control everything. If you also find yourself saying no all the time about everything, there’s probably a space of fear there, or anxiety.”

Fear-based parenting often results in overprotection and control. We see everything as a threat and try to mitigate that threat all the time. This overprotection and control can hinder our children’s ability to make their own decisions and learn from the consequences of their actions.

The Impact of Fear-Based Parenting on Children

Fear-based parenting can have several negative impacts on children. It can hinder their ability to make their own decisions, adapt to new situations, handle criticism, and even lead to rebellion.

Heather explained, “When we get really overprotective and controlling, it means they don’t have to make their own choices, and when they don’t make their own choices, they never learn what consequences look like.”

Moreover, children who are controlled too tightly tend to rebel. Heather likens this to a small child who gets a puppy and squeezes it so tight until eventually, the puppy has to lash out because it needs some space.

“That’s what that rebellion feels like. Like they’ve been trapped in a corner for a really long time, so they eventually need to spread their wings.”

Overcoming Fear-Based Parenting

How do we overcome fear-based parenting? Heather provided some valuable advice.

  1. Use Fear to Our Advantage: Fear provides information. When we feel fear or anxiety as parents, we can take a step back and ask where this fear is coming from. We can use this information to make different decisions moving forward.
  2. Recognize Excuses: We often make excuses to avoid dealing with what we’re afraid of. Recognizing these excuses can help us confront our fears and make better decisions.
  3. Adopt a Growth Mindset: A growth mindset allows us to learn and grow no matter where we’re at. It helps us realize that we can make mistakes, learn from them, and try again.
  4. Learn from the Pain: Parenting can be painful, but we can learn from this pain. Recognizing that things being hard is part of parenting can help us accept it and not be afraid of it.
  5. Remember What We Know: Reminding ourselves of what we know to be true can help combat fear. For example, reminding ourselves that we’re trying every day and putting energy into our family every day. Give yourself credit! Focus on your efforts and not on your fear.

While it’s natural for parents to worry about their children, it’s important not to let this worry turn into fear that dictates our parenting decisions. By understanding fear-based parenting, recognizing it in ourselves, and taking steps to overcome it, we can make better decisions that align with our values and benefit our children in the long run.

To contact Heather for counseling, email, or visit

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