All children need to feel safe and connected. It is their basic need. When a parent hits, scolds, or forgets about a child – these two needs are not met.
The child feels in danger and disconnected. This causes trauma in the body.
This trauma when not shared or that connection not repaired results in emotional reactivity and health issues. Here I refer to health as holistic of physical and mental.
Following is a list of nine understated habits in parents which are very common and result in lots of children holding deep shame, blame, and pain in their bodies.
1. Comparing Them To Siblings/Cousins/Friends
“See how dedicatedly your brother finishes assignments. And see you. Good for nothing!”
This is the seed for lifelong hate between siblings.
“Both Jay’s sons are doing so well. And look at you being useless.”
These statements establish low self-esteem for life.
Many parents who have ‘good intentions’ believe this to be a great motivator but it works the opposite. Shaming is never the solution.
When the people you trust most, do not believe you can amount to anything – how will you?
2. Making Them Feel Responsible For Your Feelings
“Your terrible behavior is making me cry”
Our reactions to behaviors are due to our own expectations or beliefs. Blaming it on kids is shedding accountability.
“Because of you, my whole day is spoilt”
If we cannot regulate our emotions, how can we expect our children to?
Our children are NOT responsible for our feelings. We are.
It also indicates to kids that your love for them is tied to good behavior. It causes them to become compliant but causes a lot of trauma as they cover their authentic selves for your approval.
3. Being The Matyr
“This is all my fault! I am only bad. Why doesn’t God kill me?”
This becomes the seed for lifelong guilt and self-sabotage in kids.
“I am good for nothing. No one needs me, why am I living?”
We become an example to follow for self-criticizing and fault finding in others and oneself.
With a role model who is always ready to give up and start a pity party – kids tend to develop self-blaming tendencies and think they are the cause of all problems. This diminishes self-worth.
4. Putting Them Down In Front Of Others
“She is so bad at this, aunty….always failing at everything”
What they hear about themselves, they become.
“He has become so cranky nowadays, always shouting”
In lieu of making ourselves look better as parents, we make our kids feel worse.
These words when heard by your kids become lifelong labels they confine themselves in. It causes negative self-talk, fixed mindset and leads to loneliness and anxiety.
5. Sharing their Secrets
“She was telling me that she is fond of this boy”
The beginning of lifelong distrust between you and your child.
“My son told me this about your son, is it true?”
In lieu of gossip, a friendship is broken and your relationship affected.
How we manage our kid’s secrets has a big impact on their relationship with trust in general. What may be petty stuff for us is big for them. And trust begins and stays with loyalty.
6. Thrusting Your Dreams On Them
“I didn’t get to be a dancer, I will make my daughter the best one”
But have you asked her? If this is not her calling, it is the root of lifelong resentment.
“He will make my business ten times bigger when he starts”
Is the family business in his aptitude? Have you observed these qualities or just indulging in wishful thinking?
We do not own our kids and they are NOT born to fulfill our legacy. To know more on this read: Bursting Parenting Myths: Wasn’t My Kid Supposed To Be Like Me
7. Making Them A Show Monkey
“Nila, why don’t you sing and show for us?”
As a scheduled performance – YES/ Just to fluff up your ego – Big NO
“My Ray can draw very well. I will send you his best drawings”
To the very close family – YES so they can encourage the child and promote interests / To an acquaintance, extended family – NO, they will not care and you are oversharing
Why do parents think children are like property or a trained pet? I personally would not want to do that to my puppy either. She is like my child and not a trophy to flaunt.
It also instills people-pleasing tendencies in them. They constantly look for external validation and that is a source of great unhappiness.
8. Unwilling To Listen to Their Side of the Story
“You are always at fault. Why will Sharma Uncle lie? You must have done something wrong”
This makes them feel that their voice does not matter.
“I know how Ruby is. She is a nice girl. Why did you make her cry?”
These kinds of statements create disconnection and resentment.
Being seen and heard are basic human needs. When we do NOT give our kids a chance to tell their side of the story it creates disconnection through shame and anger. If you do not give them a chance in childhood they end up not giving themselves a chance as adults.
9. Making Them Feel Inferior and Dependant
“Where will you go? You need money for food and you have none”
Kids already know they are dependent on us for needs. Rubbing it in their faces, especially with teenagers will create deep resentment. Do not use it as a joke either. It may be taken as you are making fun of them.
To make someone feel dependant also creates the feeling that they are lesser than you. And this is NOT a good feeling.
The above 9 habits most commonly bring unprocessed trauma in kids which leads to emotional reactivity in their late teenage years and adult life.
If you have done these in the past, please offer yourself some grace. I did too. So much of this is unconscious behavior and part of generational trauma. The idea is not to blame but to awaken.
To know that there is hope and with empathy, we can pave the road to meaningful and fulfilling relationships.
Accepting accountability for our actions and willingness to change is the first step.