Without a shadow of a doubt that a parent has immense power over who their child will become. However, the ways in which parents shape their children are likely much different than you would imagine.
Recently, I watched a TedTalk by Yuko Munakata, and I really appreciated how she compared the impact of a parent over a child to the impact of a butterfly flapping its wing and shaping a hurricane. The butterfly effect shows how butterflies’ wing patterns can change (in tiny ways) the atmosphere, causing hurricanes and tornadoes.
Munakata says that while parents most definitely shape their children, it is in unpredictable but meaningful ways. And I have to agree. With that being said, here are 7 ways parents shape their children.
1. Implicit or Explicit Aggression
Using aggression towards children, such as spanking, smacking, cruel words said out of anger, and aggression in general around them can ultimately damage their mental health. Using such actions can lead to low self-esteem, depression, unstable emotions, and use of aggression themselves.
2. How to handle stress.
Children watch their parents and how they handle immense stress. The ways in which their parents let off steam is how they learn to manage their own stress. Be careful about blowing up when under pressure around children, they see that and follow suit.
3. How to manage relationships.
In many cases, children model their relationships based on their parent’s actions and failures. If they see their parent in unstable relationships, they may view that as normal and model it on their own. If they see healthy relationships, they will learn what to compare their own too.
4. Social Skills
The parent-child relationship has much to do with a child’s overall social skills. Spending time with parents in a healthy dynamic teaches their children to use social skills and also gives them a higher sense of confidence.
5. Narcissistic Tendencies
But, be wary of overpraising. “Children believe it when their parents tell them they are more special than others. That may not be good for them or society. Rather than raising self-esteem, overvaluing practices may inadvertently raise levels of narcissism,” says Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio University.
6. Poor or positive eating habits.
Children pay attention to how their parents approach food, whether they are picky or apprehensive about certain foods, and what they are expected to eat or not eat. How often a parent eats, how much they eat in one sitting and how they view food as a source of sustenance has a major impact on how their little one does.
7. Overall mental health & health.
Not only do our genes pass on to our children, but also our behaviors and habits towards healthy activities and practices. However, it isn’t just the physical health that can be affected by the parent, our mental health can be as well. Children who grow up in anxious environments with anxious parents also end up being more prone to anxiety according to studies.