Do we push our own fears onto our children?

I’ve been pondering, as I do most things, whether as a nation of Brits, whether we are pushing our own fears onto our children?

George is now three and we’ve attended many a baby and toddler class, read many a children’s book and watched many a program aimed at children his age. He’s a child who is learning all about his surroundings, feelings and emotions and how the world works.

The most recent thing we watched that actually sparked this post was a program on a well known British children’s channel. In the show, the children were practicing their nativity play. Two of the girls got up on a stage and acted out the role of Mary and the Angel. After the girls had said their lines, the teacher asked the girls if acting on a stage had made them nervous. They both said no. “Did it make you excited?” she asked. A weak yes response came from both. Fair do’s for asking if it incited varying emotions but what the teacher said next irritated me.

The teacher then turned to the rest of the class and said;

“It’s very hard to get up on stage in front of everyone. “Girl A” usually has a lot of confidence in class but it doesn’t mean it’s easy to get up here, she did really well”.

I get what she’s attempting to do. Praise and credit the girls achievements, but can you see the point I am trying to highlight here?

She has just told a class full of impressionable children that it is a difficult thing to stand up and talk in front of others. And so (to my mind) a potential class of nervous and shy children have been created. You tell a child something, they believe it (typically) For many you have just planted a seed of negativity right there.

And before you think I’m one of those 2017, gets offended by everything types, I so couldn;t be further from it. What I am is someone who says things as I see. We all know that if I tell you long enough the sky is green that eventually, if you are impressionable (as children are) you will start to believe it.

I’ve also on countless times heard the mention of “scary spiders”. Yes, agreed, arachnophobia is a big thing in the world but we are never going to stop it by teaching children that spiders are scary. It’s a never ending cycle of fear being programmed into one generation after the next. Children don’t come out being scared of spiders. We teach it to them. I know the end moral of stories like the one I’ve seen on Peppa pig is that you needn’t be scared of spiders like Mr Skinny Legs but by then it’s too late. You’ve planted the seed. Where are the programs about scary sheep, scary balls or scary paintbrushes? There aren’t many you can name are there!

Then there’s rain. Think about it. As a British nation, specifically in England, the majority of us believe that rain is a negative thing. Admittedly this mentality is changing but there are countless posts about what to do on a rainy day at home. But why does a rainy day have to mean you stay home? And so I draw your attention to a well known nursery rhyme.

“Rain, rain go away, come again another day”

Don’t even get me started on;

“It’s raining, it pouring, the old man is snoring, he went to bed and bumped his head and couldn’t get up in the morning”

I’m sure you are thinking that children don’t over analyse these things.  But you have to admit that we could be planting seeds in our children’s minds that suggest rain is negative. You can’t go out in the rain, it needs to go away, no one likes it. Why!?

It’s hard for me as a mother who grew up scared of almost everything. The dark, spiders, going fast, swimming, the wind, loud noise, heights, going upstairs by myself, ghosts, dead people, being shy. I’m not saying it’s anyone’s fault I was that way. I can almost pinpoint a life event that caused each of those fears but I bet I’ve forgotten about the episode of a programme that first instilled that idea into me, or a lady saying something to me on the bus, or a book that was read to me at the library.

As an adult I now try my hardest to not be fearful of anything. Using willpower, hypnotherapy and just a basic “couldn’t give a shit” attitude I’ve managed to conquer most of those fears. Post natal depression will do that for you as well I found. Once you’ve seen the lowest parts of yourself you aren’t scared of much else your daily life has to offer. But for George I’ve always wanted different. If I can avoid him gaining a fear of things I will.

He has already developed several fears that affect him in fits and starts and to be honest I can only think they are things he has seen on television as he certainly hasn’t witnessed them from me or his dad. We greet spiders like they are long lost friends, we poo poo suggestions we hear on tele of people saying they are scared of the dark etc. We encourage him to discover, explore and push himself, safe in the knowledge that we will be there if he feels he needs us to support him.

Once he starts full time school I know this will become harder. Perhaps we all need a little fear to make us rounded individuals. I personally feel fear holds you back and you miss out on areas of life because of it. Shyness for example. Would I have taken part in so much more, been part of so many groups had I not been shy. I wouldn’t have taken so much bullshit and I may, possibly, have been happier for it instead of feeling bitter about a lot of my school years.

What do you think? Do you think this is a British thing? I can’t help wondering if children raised in other countries/cultures/environments have different fears because of different exposures. For example in countries where they don’t a lot of television, if any, do children have these fears? Or as Brits are we creating the next anxious and fearful generation?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

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18 thoughts on “Do we push our own fears onto our children?

  1. This is a really interesting post and I was a bit cross when Izzie’s teacher gave her a book and told her it was a tricky one so not to worry is she struggled. I totally understood that the teacher was trying to reassure her but it put Izzie off even opening it up because it was going to be in her words “too hard”! #Kcacols

  2. My mom tried as hard as she could to give me all of her fears and OCD. I had to work so hard as a kid, and later as an adult to overcome them. Good on you for thinking about this where it starts! I do the same with our girls. #mightygirls can’t be scared to brush their teeth alone, ya know? M’wah! and Happy weekend #kcacols

  3. Interesting, I don’t think it is a British thing, but I do think we consciously and unconsciously affect how our children think and behave. They look to us and if we are constantly talking about e.g. the negativity of rain then they are bound to take this on board and it will shape how they feel. Certain fears like spiders and the dark seem to be inherent rather than being learnt! #KCACOLS

  4. I’m sure people in places have different fears and in some ways it’s natural that these are passed on. Perhaps the important thing is to know when we do. Thanks for linking to #kcacols and hope to see you again next time.

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Oh i’m almost certain we do. It’s more when others are doing it when I have tried my hardest not to that I become despairing at the notion.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Interesting read. I agree that as parents we influence our kids without realising it in all sorts of ways. I have a boy and a girl, and it’s the gender issue that really worries me – how kids can pick up on supposed differences between what boys/girls can do or should act by how we treat them. Being aware is the first step in all of this, I guess!

  6. Interesting post. I think that here in the States this is definitely something that we need to be mindful of. The political situation is such that I wonder what our children are hearing, how they are being affected.

    1. That’s true. Here’s me worrying about what can be relatively minor fears when there is so much more they can worry and fear. I know we can’t protect them eternally but I truly feel fears and phobias hold us back from fully experiencing life.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. I think in general kids are very impressionable and as parents they often look up to us to see how to behave so it’s important not to be hypocritical and do certain things expecting them to know better. In regards to fears I think they can pick them up from anywhere, my 13 year old is really scared of any insect that moves although nobody else in the house is so not sure when or why he developed that fear. #KCACOLS

  8. Good read – I don’t think it’s a British thing in particular but I do think it’s easy to put our fears into our children. I hate flying and had to try so hard to be happy and positive about it when with the kids

    1. Yes this is a biggy for me too now you mention it. We’ve yet to fly with our little dude. I can’t say I’m overwhelmed with the bought but a shot or two and I’ll forget about it. Hubs on the other hand will need a little more convincing but he knows he needs to put on a brave face as little dude has his sights set on the world. He watches go Jetters asking if we’ve been placed like Japan and can he go 🙈 the world is your oyster kid 😜

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. 👍🏻

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