If you’re reading this, you already know that parenthood is an emotional roller coaster. One moment, you’re irritated about getting your children ready for school, and the next, you’re chuckling at something adorable or amusing your child said. Some parents, however, display their emotions excessively, weeping randomly during an embrace, acting warm and encouraging because of a stellar report card, and then exploding over a messy room mere minutes later.
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If you’re immersed in parenting TikTok, you may be aware that there is now a term to describe the irritability, inconsistent behaviors, and erratic emotions exhibited by some parents: eggshell parenting.
Dr. Kim Sage, a licensed clinical psychologist, coined the phrase “walking on eggshells,” which describes how a child might feel when witnessing a parent go from being happy to furious in an instant for unknown reasons.
Dr. Zishan Khan, a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist with Mindpath Health, explains to Parents: “The child feels responsible for their parent’s care and feels guilty when things don’t go their parent’s way.”
Eggshell parenting is not a manner of childrearing that parents choose. Millions of parents are now aware of the unhealthy behavior associated with the term, which, according to Stephanie Wijkstrom of the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, is similar to borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. However, anyone can exhibit these characteristics.
We will delve deeper into the behaviors of eggshell parents and how they can affect their children, as well as provide some strategies for escaping these behaviors.
How does eggshell parenting work?
As described previously, an eggshell parent exhibits unstable emotional behavior or temperament. According to Psychology Today, children are emotionally sensitive. When they detect negative and fluctuating emotions, they feel insecure and wary at home, the only place they should feel protected.
“At the core of emotionally hazardous parenting is genuine emotional peril… Sage explained on TikTok that this puts children in a position where they must always be hypervigilant for what may or may not happen next. “Even if you are loving, safe, and wonderful, if you are capable of being unsafe, you are not safe at your core.”
Examples of parenting on eggshells include praising your child for performing well in a track meet and then criticizing them for not running quicker. Typical eggshell parents use threats to force their children to do what they want, such as threatening to kick them out of the home if they get a certain hairstyle.
Children frequently do not recognize abusive behavior, but it causes them injury. In fact, it is probable that the eggshell parent’s behavior is a result of being raised in a similar manner.
Anna Hindell, a psychotherapist, tells Parents, “This unpredictable behavior is confusing, sends mixed messages, and does not provide the child with consistent mirroring, the behavior and affect a child needs from a caregiver to feel safe, secure, and understood.”
However, adults have outbursts, correct?
Timeouts and shouting are no longer regarded as effective forms of discipline. Instead, we are teaching children empathy, respect, and comprehension. However, no parent is flawless, and it is normal for even the most level-headed caregiver to occasionally lose their temper. If you’re questioning whether you’re an eggshell parent, you’re probably not. You are cognizant of the cause of your behavior.
Shari Botwin, author of Thriving After Trauma: Stories of Living and Healing, tells Parents, “We all lose it at times.” “An eggshell parent is unpredictable and more likely to scream or lash out. Another distinction is that eggshell parents rarely accept responsibility for their actions. However, parents who do not have this type of pathology will typically settle down and discuss what occurred, and they will apologize in the majority of cases.”
How can parenthood on eggshells affect my child?
Eggshell parents probably inherited their behavior from their progenitors. Sage explains on her website, for instance, that she has not only investigated the effects of instability and trauma on children and adults, but she has also personally experienced childhood and adult trauma.
Hindell adds that children who grow up in an unpredictable and unstable environment tend to blame themselves rather than their parents for the instability they experience, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and mood fluctuations in adulthood.
How can I stop the cycle?
The first step in breaking the cycle of eggshell parenting is to accept responsibility for one’s actions. Apologizing for a sudden outburst and altering your response to stressful situations go a long way toward mending your relationship with your children and yourself.
You probably don’t want to repeat the past with your own children if you grew up with a parent who avoided conflict. You can seek professional assistance from a therapist or speak with your caregiver to resolve persistent conflicts. It can be a challenging discussion. To safeguard yourself, Khan suggests managing your expectations for resolution and maintaining personal boundaries.
“One cannot presume they can teach an old dog new tricks. Remember that you are not their therapist and that you are not responsible for ensuring that they can rehabilitate and move forward, contrary to your natural inclination if you were raised by helicopter parents, “Khan advised Parents.