Parenthood can be tough, no matter who you are, where you come from or what your beliefs are, and there are no hard and fast rules for raising children to be emotionally healthy and happy. However, there are some ways that a parent or caregiver can accidentally cause emotional harm to their child, and here are some examples:
- Belittling or ignoring your child’s feelings
When your child is feeling sad, angry confused or afraid and you make fun of them in any way, or choose to ignore them, then you’re showing them that you believe their feelings are unjustified. This can cause them to suppress their emotions and encourage them not to be open about how they’re feeling.
- Having rules that are not consistent
Rules, boundaries and guidelines are needed by all children, no matter what their age, and if they’re not getting clear ones from you, then they’ll begin to set their own, often with negative consequences such as encouraging poor self-esteem or behavioral problems.
- Badmouthing the other parent
Your kids begin to understand what it is to love and care for someone else from you, but if they don’t see you showing any affection or concern for the significant other person (or persons) in your life, then they may grow up confused about what love and respect looks like. Constant arguments with your partner in front of your child, putting them down and even threatening divorce, are all actions that make your child anxious and unable to interpret what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like.
- Punishing your child for growing up
It’s inevitable that your child will one day grow up and want to fly the nest, and while this might be an unpleasant or frightening thought, it’s important that you don’t unintentionally punish them for doing what is natural to them: growing up.
- When your child is treated as an extension of you
If you’re showing your child that how well they perform at school, and how popular or physically attractive they are, is important to you because it makes you have a better social standing, this teaches them that their worth is based upon their performance and how they make you look. This can turn your child into a people pleaser, and to make them worry that they’re not good enough.
- Shielding your child from everything
Protecting your child from bad or uncomfortable things that might be happening, or from your emotions, may be instinctual, but it isn’t always in their best interests, since it can make them feel that they need to be protected from life instead of facing it.
Being a parent is tough, and sometimes, just talking about the challenges you might be facing with someone who doesn’t know you, your family or your circumstances, is not only therapeutic, but can help give you valuable emotional insight and enable you to enhance your parenting skills.
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