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2 Factors that have strong negative effect on a child's emotional health

Conflict is a natural by-product of the fight between parents who much teach their children to ‘work hard’ in order to learn to be productive and achieve in life, which children have limited resources and attention-span in relation to ‘work’ type activities and can be particularly marked in relation to children who appear to manifest marked anxiety in the face of much ‘work’ or ‘productive’ activity.  Much patience and understanding is needed by a parent who must learn to carefully navigate the balance between pushing her children to work and allowing them the space to relax and play. 

I will now argue that the presence of certain factors have far more serious effects on a child in relation to the catalysing of her anxiety.  If a parent exhibits marked levels of the following, this will typically have a far more serious effect in relation to her children’s emotional health:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Aggression

1) Anxiety

In ‘Returning to our core values’, I outlined that one of the core values of this website is the belief that humans require 2 things in order to feel emotional stable and happy: a sense of personal security and safety, and a sense that she is highly esteemed and accepted has a strong sense that she is able to elicit the affection of those with whom she exists in close relationship.  Central to Bowlby’s attachment theory was the thesis that children look to their parents for comfort and support when the are afraid, and if the parent attempts to console, comfort and support the child in such instances, her attachment system deactivates and she is then able to become calm and contented again.  However, if a parent is constantly anxious, I believe that a child will remain in a constant state of anxiety, since she is not able to gain the consoling and calming that she requires from her parent: the parent is herself not consoled and calm and so she will not be able to convey consoling and calming behaviours to her child.  The child then remains unconsoled and somewhat anxious.  A chronically anxious parent is also typically not able to offer her child the ongoing attention and encouragement that the child requires in order to feel highly esteemed and encouraged by her parent since an anxious individual is preoccupied with her anxieties.  I believe that this typically undermines the parents ability to be enthusiastic, engaging and encouraging with her child, in the manner that a child, hungry for attention and affirmation, typically requires in order to maintain a high sense of self-esteem.  Parenting can be exhausting, and unfortunately, those who are preoccupied with chronic anxiety will not typically have the emotional resources to invest as much attention towards her child’s ongoing demands for attention. 

However, I suspect that the presence of anxiety may inflict less permanent damage than the presence of aggression in a child’s intimate relationships.  I have observed that the presence of a second parent who is less anxious has seemed provide somewhat of a buffer in relation to the effect of the presence of anxiety in a parent.  Also, I think that within an environment of warmth and affection, as a child grows, her capacity to master difficult and frightening emotions also typically increase, and as she reaches adulthood, she may find it easier to master fear in a way that her parent was not able to.  I have observed children that demonstrate anxiety symptoms at a young age, develop significant emotional resilience as they have grown older in certain warm and encouraging environments, despite the presence of a somewhat anxious parent. 

2) Agression

However, I feel that the presence of high levels of aggression in a child’s family environment typically has a far more permanent effect on the personality of a child. 

We have proposed that in order for a child’s emotional needs to be met, she needs to feel highly esteemed and accepted by those she is in close relationship with, and she needs to feel a strong sense of warm affection within her significant relationships. 

Unfortunately, many individuals exhibit marked aggression in their behaviour.  It is proposed herein, that the presence of marked aggression in a child’s close relationships has a detrimental effect on a child’s emotional health.  Aggressive individuals show marked anger and criticism towards those around them.  Typically much of their conversation will be devoted to criticising people and trying to explain how they are annoyed with others.  Aggressive people may also be quite manipulative and try to coerce those around them into changing their behaviour to behaviour that the aggressive individual approves of.  Unfortunately, since this behaviour is integral to such individuals dealings with others, an aggressive individual will criticise and attempt to manipulate her children in the same way as she does with all of those around her, who do not act in the way she wishes them to.  One of a child’s key developmental conflicts that she must learn to negotiate, involves learning to submit to adults, when their wishes are contrary to the child’s.  In the case of an aggressive individual child, these conflicts are myriad, since the aggressive individual is overly critical and controlling.  A child quickly learns that she must give up her needs and desires on almost all occasions if she wishes to maintain the affection, and approval of the aggressive parent.  Unfortunately, the aggressive parent typically remains aggressive even if people try to do as she wishes, and so her child grows in the knowledge that she will never obtain the approval and acceptance of her parent.  This creates immense emotional conflict for an child and emerging adult.