What do you do when your child is upset? The answer to that question can be based on the parenting style that you choose to practice. One option is to comfort your child until he or she feels better.
Another option is to tell your child to “shake off” the injury or emotion that he or she is experiencing. Parents that do this often feel it is a good way to help their child grow up. However, there are some hidden dangers to “shake it off” parenting that you should be aware of.
It’s fine for Taylor Swift to sing a song that suggests a person should “shake it off’ rather than let the haters trouble them. Some may find that song to be empowering. It’s good advice for adults, or for older teens, who are struggling to cope with friends or family members who are consistently mean to them.
It is not unusual for a parent to raise his or her children in the same style that their own parents raised them in. How did your parent respond when you were sad or injured? Your own parents may have told you to stop crying, or that you were “just fine”. You might be following that same pattern with your child. Or, perhaps you are trying to avoid becoming a “helicopter parent”, so you take things to the other extreme.
The thing to be aware of are the hidden dangers of “shake it off” parenting. Kate Hurley, a child and adolescent psychotherapist and parenting educator, wrote an insightful article titled “The dangers of ‘shake it off’ parenting”. She points out that it can have lasting, negative, effects on a child.
One thing that happens with “shake it off” parenting is loss of empathy. A crying child does not get the empathy he or she needs from a parent. The child may learn that results are more important that the emotions that people experience. The child may think the parent doesn’t care, and so, the child learns not to care about what other people feel.
Dangerous things can happen when a physical injury is not taken seriously by parents. For example, we now know that heading the ball while playing soccer can cause a concussion. The Mayo Clinic points out that experts recommend an athlete with a suspected concussion not return to play until he or she has been medically evaluated by a health care professional who was trained in evaluating and managing concussions.
It’s time to stop telling kids to “shake it off” and get back in the game. Doing so teaches your child to ignore the physical pain he or she is feeling. That’s not a healthy way to go through life.
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