Profound and long-lasting impact of actions and words on children
A plethora of research shows most adult behaviour problems are linked to childhood experiences.
Recently I was at a seminar where the speaker a psychologist narrated a story about how a simple remark like “you are getting too big for your boots” from a teacher had a long-lasting negative impact on her personal and professional life. I would like to share a story that highlights the same phenomenon and emphasises the need to be conscious around children.
The incident happened many years ago when Alice was in 7th grade. She had a pair of silver earrings that a friend liked and asked if she could have it. Alice willingly gave it to her. Alice came back and told her mother what happened. Mother had two options.
Option 1: She could have been pleased with her child and recognised the child’s altruistic nature and the willingness to part with what was dear to Alice by appreciating her.
Option 2: She could get upset with Alice and highlight her inability to safeguard her possessions.
The mother, was not happy and asked Alice to go back to her friend and get those earrings back. The mother obviously chose the second option with the good intention of teaching Alice a valuable life lesson.
Alice went to the friend and got the earrings back and gave it to the mother. The mother was happy and Alice on the other hand never really cared for those earrings ever again. Alice struggled to take back what she gave away willingly. As Alice grew to be a young lady and a grown woman, repeatedly displayed behaviours and acted in ways that showed no desire for the things that were given to her because she knew that they didn’t truly belong to her. She knew that she had no right to do what she wants with it. This lack of ownership of what was rightfully her’s filtered into other areas of life both at home and work.
It is not until recently (almost 40 years later) that she gained the courage to take what truly belongs to her and use it. Very difficult circumstances and years of inner engineering led to the change in Alice’s behaviour.
Not all children are as lucky as Alice or the psychologist I listened to last week. They struggle and continue to struggle alone without the support and help they need.
Be mindful, build awareness and show empathy. As a mental health professional, it is extremely essential to understand how adult behaviour is deep rooted in childhood experiences.