Micromanaging or how not to get your kids to do what you want

David Willans
3 min readNov 26, 2021

It’s called over parenting. None of us want to do it, we want our children to be confident, capable, self-sufficient, responsible people. But life’s busy and things are easier if they’re controlled and predictable, so we try to micromanage them. It’s no wonder we find ourselves seeking this in our parenting.

You’ve been micro-managed as a kid, it was called school. If you’ve been micromanaged as an adult, you’ll know even better how unpleasant it is. Yet we do it to our kids, unwittingly.

There are times when they need to be managed. When their safety is at risk, or behaviours could be misinterpreted as disrespectful. A child running down the aisle at a funeral.

But if we’re slipping into it on a regular basis, we need to check ourselves. Here are the signs parenting has slipped into overparenting.

You tell them the right way to do most things — If it’s not going to offend or endanger, then is there a problem with them dressing how they’d like?

You don’t let them fail — It’s not a good feeling when they don’t do well in a test, they ignore their playdate, they just aren’t very good on the pitch or can’t ever seem to get that tune down. But failure is a fact of life, in a way a test of how much something matters. And it’s the best teacher there is.

You get into power struggles — Especially over things that don’t matter, like how they’re sitting, or not on a swing, the daft song they keep singing, whether their coat is done up or not. Again, if it’s doing no harm, causing no offence or isn’t morally wrong, then why try to control it? Power struggles are the result of a feeling of powerlessness. If they have power in some areas of their lives, like what they wear, they’ll cede power to you in others, like important social situations.

You haven’t got age appropriate expectations — If your expectations are too high, you’ll tend to micromanage with the aim of getting them to meet your bar. If they’re too low, it’s a sign you don’t believe they are capable. Learning about, and setting your expectations at an age appropriate level is also great for your patience and satisfaction as a parent.

You overindulge — You don’t let your child do things for themselves, like clearing the table after dinner, doing chores like loading the dishwasher, sorting their laundry, doing their bit of the cleaning. The micromanager, or…

David Willans

Working out how to be the best dad I can be at www.beingdads.com | @Being_Dads.