Is My Child Acting Like Me? – An Ugly Behavior Mirror

This was an interesting article I found on Psych Central
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Sometimes, we have no idea why our kids are misbehaving the way they are. Other times, we know exactly where their behavior is coming from and how to make it stop. And then occasionally, in those moments none of us really want to look at, we wonder if we’re the actual culprits behind our children’s behavior.

After all, we’re ready and willing to take credit for the good stuff they do. Shouldn’t we also take credit for the bad?

As parents, we’re constantly evaluating our choices, wondering whether or not we’re screwing our kids up. For the most part–as long as we’re not abusing our children–I think most of us probably doing a decent job. Sure, our kids might not grow up to be astronauts (please don’t ask me for help with chemistry homework), but they’ll be productive members of society who have good manners and an average amount of common sense.

However, none of us are perfect, and we’ve all contributed to some bad habits in our kids. Maybe we’ve even caused them long-term harm without realizing it. It’s a sucky feeling, no doubt about it, but it’s important to see it for what it is so we can process it and move on.

We can’t help our kids get healthy if we’re not willing to admit the part we played in their unhealthiness.

In my own life, I know I’ve contributed to my oldest child’s anxiety. She doesn’t just have a little anxiety that comes and goes–she has clinical Anxiety with a capital A.

And there’s no doubt in my mind that it started with me.

When I was pregnant with her, I was living with Anxiety and a panic disorder that had gone untreated for many years. I didn’t know it at the time, but hormones released by a mother during pregnancy (such as stress hormones or adrenaline) are shared with the baby. The constant fight-or-flight mode my brain was in during pregnancy caused her to be flooded with those same hormones, which has affected the way her brain functions now as a kid.

And the way that I acted the first two years of her life–as a result of that Anxiety/panic disorder–impacted the way she viewed the world around her. When she fell down, I panicked. When someone else was going to babysit her, I panicked. When she cried for a bottle, I panicked.

Everything in those first two years caused me to panic, even when I knew I shouldn’t, because I wasn’t medicated, yet. My behavior had a permanent affect on her personality. And even though I know my disorders are not my fault, my behavior as a result of those disorders still impacted her. It’s important for me to acknowledge that.

Now she’s nine years old, and it’s like looking into a mirror every time I want her through an Anxiety attack. She loses hours of sleep every night because she’s literally terrified of made-up scenarios that will probably never happen.

That’s a painful reflection to see.

I’m on medicine now and have had less than a handful of panic attacks in the past seven years, but she still has to live with that Anxiety, and it causes her to have behaviors that can be really exhausting to others.

My best friend has a son who is the same age as my daughter. Yesterday, she mentioned that she thinks her son has certain negative behaviors that came from her, just like my daughter gained some from me. My friend experienced a traumatic childhood, which has caused her to act in ways that have negatively impacted her own children’s behavior. And although she has gone through therapy and minimized most of them, she can now look back on her firstborn child’s life and see where her trauma affected his behavior.

It’s not always easy to look in the mirror when it comes to our kids’ behavior, but it’s important to do so every once in a while. We don’t need to die of guilt, but it’s important for us to take responsibility in areas where we’re at fault.

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