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What is Eggshell Parenting?

An orange bowl of cracked eggshells by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash

There is a wide variety parenting styles that parents can choose from. Many of these are healthy choices, and parents can pick and choose which style works for them. Eggshell parenting, however, is not a healthy choice for parents or their children.

PopSugar reported that eggshell parenting is the latest parenting topic of conversation on TikTok. The term was coined by licensed clinical psychologist Kim Sage, Psy.D to describe a parent whose unpredictable behavior and emotional instability leave their child feeling unsettled and like they’re “walking on eggshells.” While its more than normal to get frustrated or upset sometimes as a parent, eggshell parenting is more than that.

Certified parent coach and owner of Happy Parenting & Families, Jen Kiss, explains that at its core, eggshell parenting is associated with quick emotional outbursts or intense mood swings. 

Eggshell parenting is a form of parenting where there are frequent emotional outbursts by the parent due to their chronically unpredictable and highly inconsistent mood, mind, behaviors, and relational state that cause their child to become hyper vigilant in order to self-protect, Dr. Sage explains. 

“The child often develops trauma responses rooted in fight, flight, freeze, and/or fawn as a way to manage the highly unpredictable nature of their environment and interactions with their caregiver,” she says. “Eggshell parenting often mirrors a disorganized attachment system, whereby the source of safety (the caregiver) is also the source of fear (the same caregiver.)”

“A non-eggshell parent will feel bad after they have yelled at their child or had an outburst and can even apologize for their reaction afterwards,” Jen Kiss says. “Eggshell parents don’t view their behavior as inappropriate, apologize, or make repairs.”

BabyCenter reported that eggshell parenting can lead to both attachment issues and also potential mental health or self-esteem concerns down the road for your child, according to Toya Roberson-Moore, M.D., psychiatrist and associate medical director at Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center. “Short erm outcomes can include the development of acute stress symptoms in children, including social withdrawal, fearfulness, hyperarousal, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating,” she says.

If children aren’t properly bonding and attaching to their parents, Dr. Robertson-Moore explains  that it can lead to attachment issues later in life as well, and even personal disorders. In addition, other risks include:

Depression and anxiety

Oppositional behaviors




Scary Mommy reported that examples of eggshell parenting – or what Jen Sage calls “emotionally dangerous behaviors” – build upon each other, making a wary kid who may develop certain behavioral issues of their own later in life.

“Number one: the parent’s mood is like being on a roller coaster. You never know what to expect, but there’s always going to be significant high highs and low lows. Basically, emotionally, you never know what to expect, but you have to prepare for the part where it’s not safe,” Sage explains.

Households run by eggshell parents typically have a lot of yelling directed at either children or other partners. Sage explains that when environments run on this kind of setting, nervous system response goes into a “chronic fight or flight” because the screaming is so triggering and dangerous.

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