It’s a tough world out there and you sure want your kids to be safe.
As parents, we discipline our children the best way we can. We want the best for them and we worry about every little detail.
However, most parents make the mistake of unintentionally gaslighting their children.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a psychological concept of manipulation that makes someone question their own sanity.
Of course, you are not making your kid crazy. However, you might be making it to trust their own body, mind and emotions, less.
The definition of gaslighting is trying to convince someone that their experiences aren’t true. By discrediting our child’s emotions and feelings we are doing exactly this!
10 Common Situations Where We are Gaslighting Our Children:
– We are forcing them to finish their meals even when they’re full.
– We tell them they’re okay when they’re not.
– We convince them what they’re crying about isn’t worth their tears.
– We overexaggerate consequences like telling them they’ll get sick if they go out after showering.
– We invent things for them to fear so we can keep them under control.
– We discredit their childish passions by telling them there will be more important things once they grow up.
– We tell them the world is terrible and speaking to other people is not safe.
– We teach them not to question older people or authorities.
– We force them to believe in the same religion we do.
– We don’t take their emotions seriously, we don’t talk with them about their emotions or tell them not to feel a certain way.
By doing these, you are instilling in their minds that what they are experiencing isn’t real.
It is a harmful way of raising your children because it can have a negative impact on their mental health. It creates a false reality for them to live in until they find their own way.
Instead, you can help them see the world as it is and grow to be mentally strong. You should be their support and give them the freedom to choose their own constructs of reality through their own experiences.
As we said, nobody wants anything bad for their children and most of us do this gaslighting subconsciously and out of care.
If you find yourself unconsciously gaslighting your kids, it’s not yet too late. Here are the ways how you can stop from gaslighting them:
5 Ways to Stop Gaslighting Your Kids and Raise Them to Be Mentally Strong:
1. Don’t stop your child from throwing a tantrum.
When your child falls, never tell them to “brush it off! You’re okay,” or when they cry in the store for a chocolate they can’t have, never tell them to “stop crying or else I’ll give you enough reason to cry.”
Doing this to a child is inculcating in their young minds that life is hard and that they must learn the skills to handle such difficulty.
2. Allow your children to cry.
Never stop your children from crying. When you stop them, chances are they will find it hard to show their emotions when they are adults.
They might not be able to point out their anxiety, frustration or a deteriorating self-image because they never had the practice to learn their emotional language.
People cry to release excess stress brought about by an intense event. A child will cry over small things like a fall, a broken toy, or a wrong color cup.
Those things look small for adults, but for a child, they’re big things. When you address them of being needy, ungrateful, rude or whiny, you’re actually pushing them to feel as if something’s wrong with them.
By giving them the freedom to express very human emotions, we are giving them practice to have a mentally healthy life.
3. Allow your children to express human emotions.
Children are emotional beings because they are too young to express in words what they truly feel.
By allowing them to express their emotions, whether positive or negative, you’re giving them the practice needed to have a mentally healthy life.
4. Teach your children positive traits by being their model.
Teach them resilience, empathy, and compassion by showing these traits in yourself.
When you actually make your children feel these emotions, you no longer have to teach them. They already experience what they need to learn.
5. Never shut down your children’s emotions by changing your perspective.
Stop telling them to buck up. Stop telling them they’re too sensitive, overreacting or crying for no reason.
Instead of shutting down their emotions, try to understand what they are experiencing. Ask if they’re okay and empathize by saying, “I understand how you’re feeling. I would feel that way too if I were in your shoes.”
By validating their experiences, you are powerfully showing compassion and understanding.
Teaching a child how to be tough through gaslighting is not the best way to face a tough world. It could only make them question their own judgment, stop listening to their intuition or losing a sense of self-confidence.
When you manage to stop this gaslighting, you’re not only providing a positive impact for your children but for your grandchildren as well. By validating a child’s experiences, you stop future abuse and pave the way for a healthier and happier future generation.
Featured Image Credit: Duke Endowment;