As parents, it is our wish, that our children are growing up in a nurturing environment which enables them to reach their goals and turn them into responsible members of society. Parents are people too and even so we strive for the best we sometimes fail when our behavior becomes passive-aggressive.
Definition of Passive -Aggressive behavior
On has to define passive-aggressive behavior in order to determine how to recognize it and get rid of it.
According to Daniel K Hall-Flavin from the Mayo Clinic .
Passive-aggressive behavior is a pattern of expressing your negative feelings in an indirect way – instead of openly addressing them.
This was the easiest understandable definition I found on the web after me and my husband argued about examples of passive Aggressive behavior.
Wisegeek.com explains passive aggressive behavior a little harsher by saying it is someone who exhibits manipulative behavior within their personality.
Children of parents who display passive aggressive behavior on a regular basis can suffer from a lack of self esteem, guild, depression and display behaviors like aggression, stubbornness, disrespect.
Writing on this on a personal level makes this task very tough. Looking back at twelve years or parenting and additional years in the field I can attest to that I probably behaved in a passive aggressive manner here and there. But parents do. Here is a list of passive aggressive behavior in parenting.
The definition of Merriam Webster dictionary says that “sarcasm is a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain.” Ouch! When children are younger they don’t understand the sarcasm but listen to them once they use it. I had to stop my daughter from doing so a couple times because her words just didn’t sound right. Of course she didn’t see anything wrong with it since I am using sarcasm. It can get them in trouble in school and it shows disrespect. It’s best to say what you mean in a direct manner with the affirmation of your love.
Talking over your child about the child is a form of belittling and passive-aggressive behavior. Things like: “She is just shy” , “he is always like that”, or listing the short coming, deficits or medical problems in front of the “youngen” to another adult without the child consent while she is present shows her that she isn’t important enough to either take her out of the setting or include her in the conversation. Also sometimes the child has other reasons not to say “Hello” or wants to say himself “how old he is”. Sometimes children become what we say they are(for example shy) and not the other way around. When you want an adult conversation ask your child to leave. But if you are just talking include the child in the conversation instead of talking over their head.
Sometimes I catch myself saying:” I am sorry that I was upset at you this morning but you shouldn’t have done this” The apology isn’t really taken as an apology and the child is being blamed for the parent’s emotions again. Often when my oldest apologizes she adds a but to her apology and it shows me that she isn’t taking responsibility for her action and for expressing her feelings in the wrong way. It can also go the other way and children can feel responsible for their parent’s emotions and behavior. Often those children become followers or “yes Sayers”, people pleasers driven by guild. When you apologize mean it, don’t ad a “but”. Don’t blame your children for coming late or poor time management even so it is easy to do.
4. Over praising
Who hasn’t experienced the following setting? The parent is busy while the toddler comes time and time again with a new scribbled artwork wanting to be acknowledged in one form or another by the parent. The parent not wanting to be disturbed in their daily tasks barely looks at it and says: “Great” in order to get back to what they are doing as fast as possible only to be disturbed again. Children will not take pride in their work but e praise instead which might limit productivity later in life. Say what you like about the picture instead and make suggestion to improve it.
My daughter begged me to go to this “Church Lock in two weeks ago”. I really didn’t feel like sleeping on the floor and staying up all night with tons of children. So I said yes but procrastinated turning our registration in. We ended up going there not registered. I was hoping they would turn us away but they didn’t. So I went back home got my sleeping bag and bit into this sour apple. It was a nice event and I was glad that I ended up being there but my daughters could have missed out on this incredible event. Procrastination as a form of aggressive passive behavior could affect children to miss out on things they enjoy doing and could make them become procrastinators to begin with. Make a decision and stick with it. If you don’t want to do something explain your child the reasons but don’t give her/him false hopes by procrastinating and maybe missing out.
6. Empty Promises
The children were all ready at the bus stop with bells tingling around their necks. The student council asked children to get in the Christmas spirit by bringing bells of any kind. Children used bells on hair clips, necklaces, back bags and what not. One child has forgotten to turn in the paper to her parent or the mom didn’t read it. She was very disappointed and suggested to bring the wreath from the door. Her mom said:” No”. The child begged her to come to school later to bring a bell. The mom couldn’t stand the begging anymore and said: “She would” to make her quiet. Once she was on the bus, the mom told me she had no intent to go to the dollar store and get her one. If this mom does this on a regular basis (which I don’t believe she does) the child won’t believe in the value of promises anymore and might make promises too in order to silence someone. Only promise what you intent to keep.
7. Meaningless Harsh Punishments
A child in my neighborhood gets in trouble on a regular basis with the kids in neighborhoods. Other parents have called the military police on him. The mother is a good mom trying really hard to correct the behavior but she is overwhelmed and on the wits end. At the same time the boy can’t keep on doing things he does. In order to silent other parents and the MP the mother told him in July that he won’t be able to go outside anymore until Christmas. Of course we weren’t surprised that he was outside again a week later. The parent and the boy probably knew full well she wasn’t able to keep this form of discipline but she just wanted to gain control of the situation right then. Inconsistency especially in form of meaningless harsh punishment is poison to the child which could cause the child never to be able to take authority seriously and the parent to lose control completely. Of course that would lead to the inability to keep the child out of trouble. Come up with a reasonable solution you can leave with. If you have troubles get some professionally help or advice.
8. Pretense of Pain or Emotion
I think we all have done it at one time or another. We want our kids to be quiet or do something for us because we have a “headache’ or we are “hurting” in one way or another. The worst thing I ever read was about a young man who wouldn’t go to a graduation trip because his mom told him she would feel all alone and cried extensively when he was trying to leave. In this story he rejected his mom for it and it took him years to forgive her. If we manipulate our children into doing something for us on a regular basis by pretending that we are in pain or experiencing overwhelming emotion they might not develop empathy when it is necessary and appropriate. They also learn to reject us as parents and make up excuses so others will do the work for them. If you want something done request it firmly but don’t’ make excuses for you not doing it. Don’t rely on your child to feel better when you are lonely. Your child is not your partner. Find activities which can lift your spirits so your child don’t have to fill in the gap.
I don’t believe that a lot of parents consciously lie to their children. But I believe it can happen occasionally when the parent is pressed to say “No” because of anxiety, financial or economically reasons. A neighbor doesn’t let her children go to the splash park because she fears that they might get pink eye. The same neighbors told her daughter that they won’t’ go to the little fair at the mall because someone died and fell of the ferris wheel which wasn’t true. Honestly I can understand those lies but then there are lies done which origin in jealousy. I read about moms who tell their offspring that they can’t sing when the opposite was true. It’s meant to prevent their children from going after their dreams, while a parent might think their own time is up. And then there are those false compliments that can be lies. A parent might be telling their child a lie all of their life because they don’t want to hurt the child’s feeling. Consider all the American Idol Auditions in the beginning. Enough said. Lies can cause more lies. If you don’t want to be lied to then don’t lie to your child for whatever reasons! A lie deflates the self esteem and devalues a child. Half Truth are lies to. Lies hurt in the end more then the truth. Telling a child the truth in a responsible manner to satisfy their hunger for information will make them curious beings and understand situation and manage them responsibly.
I lived in an institution with sixty people. Control was necessary with that many people. We were told what to wear and what not do. We were told how much we can eat. We were picked up from school during recess and brought back to school. We were not allowed to be outside when boys were outside. We were told what to eat and what not to. All of this was done to make sure that nothing out of the circumstances would happen to us. Sometimes I do the exact opposite from what people expect from me. Sometimes I automatically take the opposite opinion. I am often the one who debates when there is nothing to debate about. Control doesn’t value a person and a child can’t learn from their mistake but it does keep things in order and safe. Too much control can cause a person longing for an extraordinary amount of freedom. When they are all over sudden have that freedom that might trigger them to make wrong choices which could hurt themselves and others. Give your child choices and don’t dictate. Even in choices you have acceptable control and your child feels that he/she has control too and doesn’t feel helpless in circumstances.
In the end we are all trying to parent our children as good as we can. The fact that you are interested in this subject leads me to believe that you are an eager parent wanting to do what is right for your children.