Study finds that coddling children interferes with their physical activity!

Coddling may interfere with a child
Coddling may interfere with a child's play and physical activity. (Image via freepik/ Senivpetro)

The birth of a child transforms adult duties into parenting styles. One of these can be an overprotective style of parenting or coddling. A new study published in the Psychology of Sport and Exercise journal explored the relationship between parenting style and light, adventurous play.

Play is an important aspect of a child's life. It not only allows the opportunity for them to interact with others but also improves their health. Parents' attitudes towards risk and injury often influence this aspect of a child's life.

While your child plays, think about your thought process. Do you feel anxious and nervous, or are you generally calm when they are playing? Around 645 parents were surveyed about their attitudes towards play.

What parenting style do you opt for? (Image via Vecteezy/Thanakorn Phanthura)
What parenting style do you opt for? (Image via Vecteezy/Thanakorn Phanthura)

Why coddling is bad?

The survey showed that 78% of the parents displayed low tolerance towards risk during play, which was directly proportional to their children's moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). The lower the tolerance, the lower the child's physical activity. On the other hand, parents who display a more relaxed attitude towards risk in play, their children may get the recommended amount of exercise.

How do we define coddle? It is an overprotective parenting style full of indulgence and excessive care. Consider a scenario where a parent does everything for their growing child, including making all their decisions, feeding them even when they learn to do so, or shielding them from any possible hardship. This is a typical case of a child being coddled.

All growing children need an amount of scaffolding to learn and feel supported. However, when parents coddle, it goes directly against their social-emotional development.

What did the study find? Is coddling bad? (Image via Freepik/vecstock)
What did the study find? Is coddling bad? (Image via Freepik/vecstock)

According to the study, mothers displayed more risk aversion than fathers. Interestingly, some amount of adventurous play is associated with higher cognitive function and well-being of the child. Parents influence a child's mental health in various ways, and coddling is one of them.

There is a difference between coddling and nurturing. It is typical for a parent to be protective of their child or children, especially if the play involves some risk. However, on a larger scale, coddling can significantly interfere with their industriousness or initiative to play.

Parenting styles, especially strict parenting and overprotective styles, are closely linked to increased vulnerability in children to developing mental health issues.


Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.


What do you think of this story? Tell us in the comments section below.

Edited by Shreya Das