Care2 will go offline for site maintenance July 31 at 9pm PST.
START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Overreacting? Your Kid Will Too

Overreacting? Your Kid Will Too

“My children are lunatics,” said a beleaguered mother, and friend of mine, when I paid her a visit last spring. And she was pretty spot on with her assessment. Her children, while enormously cute in photographs, were destructive hellion children in the flesh. They were pulling toys out of one each other’s hands and then smashing things against the wall and stomping on jigsaw puzzles as if they were an invading army of red ants. And the noise, the noise…the noise. This mother, who I did sympathize with…greatly, did her best to meet the chaos with (hollow) threats and yells of her own, but she really couldn’t compete. The lunatics had taken over the asylum.

A few weeks later I had the pleasure of spending a few days with another family and witnessing the relative harmony of their ways. The two girls were playing cooperatively with one another and maintaining their toys, as well as an acceptable noise level. It was parenthood and family life in its most ideal form. Upon questioning the mother of these two children about how she maintained such tranquility, she responded with, “Mellow parents make for mellow children.” Fair enough. It would seem pretty obvious if spooked cows make sour milk, crazed parents make for crazed children.

Now comes word from Oregon State University that researchers have discovered that the parents of young children, who are reactionary and tend to over-react, are more likely to have toddlers who act out and become upset easily. The research was listed as “an important step in understanding the complex link between genetics and home environment” as the data was collected in 10 states from 361 families linked through adoption – and obtained genetic data from birth parents as well as the children. According to the report, these over-reactive parents, who were surveyed and observed, had a significant effect on their children, who exhibited “negative emotionality,” or acting out and having more temper tantrums than normal for their age. “This is an age where children are prone to test limits and boundaries,” said lead author Shannon Lipscomb, an assistant professor of human development and family sciences at OSU-Cascades. “However, research consistently shows that children with elevated levels of negative emotionality during these early years have more difficulties with emotion regulation and tend to exhibit more problem behavior when they are of school age.”

The lesson in all of this is that parents, who have the ability to regulate their reactions, remain firm, and keep themselves from loosing their minds (at least in front of their children) wind up aiding their own children in behavior modification through example. Those parents who fall short of this goal often wind up sending the wrong message and exacerbating the circumstances.

But as well all know from experience, it is easier said than done at times. I started out as an extremely cool parent with copious reserves of patience only to find myself at a loss 4 years into this parenting experiment (translation: sometimes I raise my voice a bit – I am not proud of it). How do you manage keeping your cool around your children? Do you notice a direct correlation between parental behavior and child behavior? Is it possible to rewire genetics with calm and collected parenting?

Related:
Helicopter Parents Continue to Hover
Are Parents Worried About the Wrong Stuff?

Read more: Babies, Blogs, Caregiving, Children, Family, Mental Wellness, Parenting at the Crossroads, Relationships, Teens, , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

34 comments

+ add your own
11:11AM PDT on Apr 1, 2012

i think a parent needs to yell at their kids, like after the 5th time they are corrected for the same thing. and after everything is all said and done continue on. my 15 month old is at the stage of touching everything, i normally start with either saying his name or a no as a warning, and each time he does it i get a little more firm or louder. by the 5th time i either smack his hand or yell "no!" at him and then move him away from and ignore him as he has his fit, a few seconds later he comes up to me, still crying, and i rub his head and talk to him in a gentle voice saying stuff like "i love you baby but you cant touch the oven" and for awhile he leaves it alone. i also pay attention to how bad he is being, if he keeps doing something he knows he'll get introuble and refuses to stop doing it, even after i moved him and tried to get his attention on a toy or something, it might just be naptime.

2:53PM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

It makes sense to me! It's the same with adults. If someone yells at you and you yell back, what happens? You have a shouting match. If you don't yell back and try to work things out calmly there's a much better chance the other person will calm down.

4:49AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

Sensible advice.

7:43AM PDT on Mar 22, 2012

THIS ARTICAL IS VERY TRUE

7:42AM PDT on Mar 22, 2012

MY NAME IS JAMES FROM VERMONT I HAVE 2 CHILDREN 1 BOY 1 GIRL AND THEY BOTH ARE WHAT I CALL WILD CHILDS AND AS A SINGLE FATHER OF 2 KIDS THAT HAVE ADHD BIPOLAR AND ADD WITH HYPERACTIVITY AND I FIND IF I AM CALM THEY ARE IF I START TO YELL AND SCREAM THEY DO TO SO YES THIS ARTICAL IS CORRECT I SAY READ IT 2 TIMES IF YA HAVE TO GET IT THREW OUR THICK SKULLS THAT WHAT WE DO NOW WILL FOLLOW OUR CHILDREN WAY IN TO ADULTHOOD AND IN TO THERE PARENTING SKILLS

1:24AM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

Thanks for the article.

5:17PM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

I sympathize with the mother of the monsters, but she made her monsters. Now she can live with them. Discipline begins at a very young age. Once the child is 3 years old and out of control it is too late. They now have the upper hand and they know it.

11:39AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

Being not only calm but reasonable and willing to let the child have their opinion about things certainly helps. They not only shout because they were taught to do so by example, but often even a calm parent will increase the child's frustration by "closing the book" on a subject. Lots of love and understanding to me seems far more productive than the actual style of parenting.

11:12AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

The more research about parenting generated; the worse the kids seem to be getting. I honestly don't know how kids are going to grow up and face the extreme challenges ahead in this world, when they are never allowed to face any stress as children. I think they are going to be overwhelmed when it all hits the fan. I'm not giving abusive or extreme parents a blank check by any means; I'm merely suggesting that parenting styles appear to swing wildly from generation to generation. Maybe something healthier is in the middle? Part of teaching kids is teaching them how to face disapproval, failure, even punishment: this is part of a greater lesson in teaching them how to survive adversity. We need a generation that will be greater than the "greatest generation," and I'm not sure that we're producing that generation at present. The children are our future leaders. We know an environmental crisis is coming; will our kids be able to cope and to find a way out of the mess?

10:35AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

good read. thanks.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

I have multiple health problems but when I sweat, I sweat water - no salt at all. What then?

Going vegan is best for the environment, world hunger, and your health.

Eco-Eating is the way to go: brook.com/veg (Eco-comiendo: sites.google.com/site/ecocomiendo)

This is such a good idea! I was raised in the North, so fried green tomatoes were not a part of my …

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.