Children are just little people. They need the same emotional needs as adults, specifically to be listened to, understood and to have the opportunity to have a voice. Unlike many old fashioned parenting styles where children are to be quiet until spoken to, children need to voice their minds, creativity, and express what they are feeling. What adult doesn’t?
There are ten key passive aggressive behaviors that come to mind that parents do, sometimes more than one, at other times maybe just one. We’re human, we’ve all probably done something on the list when it comes to these behaviors. The goal at this point would be to own up to the behavior and seek to not exhibit these anymore towards our children.
1. Complaining. Yes, we all complain, but we shouldn’t complain about a child to them. Open communication is essential in any relationship and there is always a way that we can discuss openly different topics without complaining to our children. Yes, on the inside we might be upset, angry, or just downright mad; however, complaining can open doors to many other passive aggressive behaviors, so it is important to nip any negative behaviors.
2. Blaming. Children in a bad situation often feel guilty even if they don’t voice their true feelings. So, blaming children is never a positive, since they generally take responsibility for areas that aren’t happy – go – lucky in their lives anyway. Blaming them for small mistakes, will only compound the guilt that they already feel. Children often don’t know how to discuss this guilt with others, but when the barrier is broken, children that have been exposed to great change or difficult life circumstances often feel somewhat responsible.
3. Adults Depending on Kids. Children need to be dependent on their parents, not the other way around. Children can be your friend, however, you are always in the role of parent. There should still be positive discipline techniques utilized in conjunction with praise, and respect. A parent should never depend on their child for the love and support they should be seeking from adults, and they shouldn’t be controlling of their children to be dependent on them.
4. “Forgetting” events. Forgetting is a passive aggressive behavior because it is just plain ignoring something of importance to your child. Now, we all truly do forget some things, but in this instance, forgetting refers to what we would tell our children, but internally we just ignored it. Children want the same stability adults do, and it’s only fair that we can be models of these behaviors to our children.
5. Negative attitudes. Having a negative attitude jeopardizes our children’s passion for life. They will start to see the world differently and definitely have a different world view, just because of our attitude. We should model for our children how to turn any situation into a positive and run with it. As our children get older, maybe we can voice our deep disappointment in something, but model how to flip things around. When we have a negative attitude, we generally have a negative attitude about the things we love, including our children.
6. Hitting. While hitting is more of a physical behavior, it has such negative emotional feedback. Parents might hit for no apparent reason, striking fear in their child. In many homes where this is prevalent, parents are causing their children to walk on eggshells, which results in the passive-aggressive behavior. It is never pleasant walking around in your own home and not knowing what attitude or behavior you’re going to run into from your family. It’s even more scary as a child.
7. Name-Calling. When angry, parents often resort to name-calling. Words can hurt just as badly as hitting. Negative behaviors of any kind start to build up and children become resentful. It is hard to build a bond with a child with this passive aggressive behavior and name calling has negative effects on a child’s self-esteem.
8. Never following through. Some parents just never follow through with anything. They have grandiose plans and break them, again and again. This shows children that you really don’t care. This builds up their excitement, and then makes it fall into the gutter. Children eventually just start to stop hoping and give up on anything that you say. This devalues the relationship as a whole and creates animosity.
9. Bullying. Manipulation occurs in many different relationships. People try to get what they want out of people. If we’re lucky we can start to recognize the small nuances of manipulation and stand up for ourselves. Children have a difficult time standing up for themselves, and if a parent is bullying how will they ever build up their child and teach them to speak for themselves? If we teach bullying, guess what our children are going to do?
10. Blowing up. Children will be exposed to a variety of emotions, however, if they see us blow up, they will probably not feel safe to come up and approach us, or to see what is wrong – especially if the blow up resulted from something they initiated. Blowing up is never a healthy emotion and showing this to our children shows a lack of self control.
There is always the possibility that individuals that exhibit many of these passive-aggressive behaviors have some mental health issues that need to be worked on. If you know someone that treats their child with these passive aggressive behaviors, it might be helpful to introduce them to counseling so that they can rebuild their relationship with their children. These behaviors cause life long negative bruises on children and might even cause them to participate in the same passive aggressive behaviors, if change isn’t implemented.