Does my parenting style affect my child’s mental health?

25 Sep

I recently read a short article online about how a parent’s style of child rearing could affect the mental health of their child. Just the title of the article itself caught my immediate attention and I quickly skimmed over it. The point of the article was that researchers say by matching your parenting style to your child’s personality, you can greatly reduce the child’s risk of anxiety and depression. I got something else out of it all together.

The first thing I thought of was how I tend to erupt sometimes when I get upset about something and the kids witness my anger. I always wish I could erase those moments. Always. I never want them to have to see me mad. I just have a terrible method of coping with my emotions. I have an especially difficult time managing my aggression if I am running on less than 6 or 7 hours of sleep. Something I need to work on. I am working on it.

I never ever take my anger or frustrations out on the kids in any physical way. It’s just the tone of voice I use that I am sure is scary to them. For example, a few days ago my son and I were in the bathroom like we are every morning right after he wakes up. I leaned over to help him take his diaper off to use the potty (we’re taking baby steps towards potty-training), and my cell phone slipped out of my sweatshirt pocket onto the floor into what appeared to be a puddle of water. I immediately blurted out some choice words in an angry tone, was about to grab a towel to wipe up what I thought was a pool of leftover bath water from last night’s bath, when I come to find out that my phone had landed not in water, but a big puddle of liquid baby soap. Keyboard side down. UGH. More angry outbursts. Then I stopped myself.

I recognized that my tone was not appropriate for my son’s ears. I realized that I didn’t want him to see me mad like that. I explained to him what happened and why I had become upset. Then I tried to salvage my phone before we picked up his sister from her crib and went downstairs to the kitchen for breakfast.

So while I’m glad the title of this article made me think about how I need to control any angry outburst that might come over me in daily life, I think the information the study was able to reveal was even more enlightening. My 3-year old is so happy, inquisitive, energetic, and smart that I’m going to work on allowing those qualities to show through my parenting in order to hopefully give him a stable mental health starting point. There are so many smiles, giggles, hugs, kisses, songs and dances that I love to share with my kids. I’m going to continue to focus on staying positive, supportive, and loving in order to nurture my growing kiddos.

Our liquid baby soap has since been transferred into a pump dispenser so as to avoid another near cell phone drowning.

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4 Responses to “Does my parenting style affect my child’s mental health?”

  1. LunaSunshine September 27, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    I really feel like it’s healthy for the children to witness emotions. I think it shows them that expressing their emotions is acceptable and healthy. I don’t know about you, but I was raised in a household where that was unacceptable. I hated it. And I refuse to raise my son that way. I get angry. I get sad. When my kitten died, T.D. watched me in hysterics. It really upset him because he’s too young to understand why I was upset and I think he thought that he did it. I had to explain to him in the most plain language I could. “Kitty went away and is not coming home. Mommy is very sad. It’s the explanation that helps.

    We are learning feeling words right now. I’ve taught him angry, sad, and happy so far. He gets it, and the more I explain, the better he can understand. He gets angry, sad, and happy too. I know he witnesses me having outbursts, but he watches me go to a “time out zone” to calm down. He does the same thing.

    I think we put too much weight on ourselves because we carry a diagnosis. I really do. Maybe I’m repeating your words back to you, I can’t recall. But it’s so true. Don’t feel like you’re having a “bad mommy” moment. In one of my training seminars at work, we discussed a parent’s role in a kids life. I said, “I feel like as long as a parent is trying, they are not failing.” We are trying very hard. We, unlike a lot of other parents out there that do not carry a diagnosis, are very concerned about our children and their development. I think it makes us superior parents. Even when we feel like we’re failing our kids because we can’t be Super Mom all of the time.

    Guess what? No one can be Super Mom all of the time!

    • bipolarandpregnant October 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

      I agree Luna – and I like what you said about how you take a time out too. I am using the “time-out” method with our son right now and it seems to work for him. I should let him know that I need time-outs too sometimes. I’m going to try that next time I have a moment when I get upset. I’ll tell him, “Mommy needs to go take a time out for a minute”. I’m sure it’ll help him understand. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Ruby Tuesday September 25, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    If it makes you feel any better, everything I have ever read has said that it’s good for kids to see their parents lose their cool from time to time. Obviously not constantly, but if it happens, and you do exactly what you did and explain the situation and why you reacted the way you did versus how you should have reacted, it lets them know that it’s a behavior that is normal and okay. No one can be happy all of the time, and if you don’t let your children see that other side of you, they’ll feel like it’s something wrong and bad when they inevitably lash out.

    I raised up two girls, from two different families, and I would lose it around them sometimes (as you said, never physically). Now they’re ages eight and eleven, and both of them are very “normal,” well-adjusted young ladies.

    • bipolarandpregnant October 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks Ruby. I definitely agree that it’s okay for them to see me get upset every now and then, as long as I explain what happened. I’m confident they’ll grow up to be well-adjusted kids too, like yours.

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