Want to know the 3 parenting mistakes that promote people-pleasing behavior in children? Keep reading!
People-pleasing conduct is loaded with emotional minefields: anger, tiredness, losing touch with our needs, sacrificing our aspirations and dreams in order to be liked, suppressing emotions, and the difficult challenge of making everyone pleased (to name just a few).
Every parent I’ve dealt with who self-identifies as a people pleaser asks, “How can I guarantee that my kid does not develop into a people pleaser like me?” I’ve never encountered a parent who strives to produce people who are obedient pleasers.
Is Your Parenting Inadvertently Promoting People-Pleasing Behaviors in Your Children?
Each action has a purpose. Oftentimes, people-pleasing is a strategy for gaining approval or acceptance and avoiding confrontation or rejection. We have all heard the expressions “Do not rock the boat,” “Do not upset the applecart,” and “Do not ruffle their feathers.” Many of us grew up hearing these slang expressions—and some even adopted them! However, at what cost are we willing to walk on eggshells in order to avoid upsetting the apple cart?
Conflict is an inescapable aspect of existence. Additionally, having children creates several opportunities for conflict in everyday life. Naturally, you want your kid to listen and comply, and it can be rather tiring when they do not! However, if we force, bribe, or overwhelm a youngster, we educate them to conform without regard for their own welfare.
Even when our actions are inadvertent, they have an effect on our children. For instance, you may be anxious or pressed for time, and as a result, you respond harshly in the present, losing sight of your long-term ideals and vision for your kids. Regardless of how benign, a parent’s answers over time may send mixed signals and teach a youngster to be obedient.
Methods for Increasing Children’s People-Pleasing
Here are a few techniques to boost your children’s probability of becoming pleasers:
- Emotional minimization for your children
- Automatically declining their requests
- Utilizing guilt, humiliation, or punishment as a means of coercion and control
- Sacrificing your personal wants, resenting it, and then venting your frustrations on your children
- Frequently being enraged at their actions
- Rewarding them for conformity
- Making people feel “regrettable” for dissenting
Additionally, parents hope that their children have a good self-esteem. Nonetheless, each time we scold, humiliate, or condemn a kid, we make it almost hard for them to be themselves. Why? Because they are too preoccupied with determining how to be loved or how to make their parents pleased.
And frequent parental reactions provide the framework for emerging people pleasers.
To be clear, I am not advocating that children should always get their way. Indeed, parental limits and the ability to say no are critical for a child’s healthy growth. However, I believe that parents and children can collaborate to develop methods to meet and respect everyone’s wants and wishes the majority of the time.
When this is not feasible and a healthy boundary must be established (e.g., safety instructions during curfews for teenagers or around water for a preschooler), they are more likely to comprehend and comply since they have repeatedly been heard and understood.
Therefore, how can we protect children’s self-esteem and educate them to speak for themselves while still respecting limits and the rights of others?
The answer—and a rare quality—is enlightened selfishness. We need self-awareness in order to act clearly on our own behalf, seek what is essential to us, uncover and communicate our truth, and live our lives passionately while still honoring and loving others. These components combine to produce an excellent model for our children.
According to the author of the article titled “People-Pleasing: The Hidden Dangers of Always Being Too Nice,” “at first glance, people-pleasing may seem to be a selfless effort. However, people-pleasing is a selfish act since you are attempting to influence another person’s attitude to you via your behavior.
Indeed, people-pleasing is motivated more by a need for control than by a desire to please others. Desiring to be admired by others is only a sign of a drive to be in control, stemming from a sense of powerlessness or worthlessness. That’s why people-pleasing is so tiring, and it runs counter to the natural flow of life and requires a great deal of work to sustain.”
If you accept that you desire your kid to develop a strong self-esteem, you cannot include people-pleasing in the recipe.
Emotional Intelligence Requires Complete Sensitivity
To develop into a free-thinking person who offers freely and without resentment, they must first understand themselves and, yes, be selfish to some extent – before making others happy on a regular basis.
However, the mechanisms by which we encourage people-pleasing are often invisible. For instance, a few years back, I was speaking with a teacher who expressed her pride in three boys in her class. Their school had planned a 5K run, and throughout the race, the quickest boys slowed down significantly to run alongside the slower children, ensuring that they did not feel insufficient or ashamed.
At first appearance, this philanthropic deed may seem courteous and kind. However, these lads sacrificed their best, lowered their physical skills, and abandoned their pursuit of triumph in order to appease their peers’ sentiments.
While it is necessary to be nice, was it kind to the guys who gave up what was best for them? And is an activity charitable if it is not charitable to all those involved?
These guys were taking on the burden of preventing other youngsters from experiencing unpleasant emotions. Nonetheless, one of the most critical components of emotional intelligence and resilience is knowing how to endure pain or disappointment effectively and discover methods to flourish with our abilities.
Consider this for a minute. If everyone slowed down, blunted their talents and abilities, or avoided attempting at all for fear of offending someone’s sentiments, our planet would almost certainly lose out on the finest in scientific advancements, technology, innovation, and every area of effort.
We may show concern and support for others’ emotions, but ultimately, each individual is responsible for their own emotions. We cannot ignore what is, and we need someone to show us the path and inspire us to believe that everything is possible with their best effort and proper use of their abilities and talents.
Allowing children to experience the whole range of emotions is the first step in teaching them emotional intelligence. One of the reasons individuals engage in people-pleasing actions is because they lack the ability to manage their own unpleasant emotions in response to conflict or another person’s distress.
Subtle, All-Too-Common Parenting Mistakes That Promote People-Pleasing
Consider three common and often overlooked parenting errors that may backfire, promote meek acquiescence, and encourage people-pleasing behavior in immature young brains.
Parenting Mistakes That Promote People-Pleasing Behavior: #1: Ignoring or Discrediting a Child’s Experiences
Unknowingly, parents dismiss their child’s experience by stating things such, “You’re being dramatic!” “That is absurd!” “Stop your sobbing!” “I cannot believe you behaved in that manner!” “You ought to know better than to behave in that manner!”
Consider that you are the one who is furious about something that occurred at work and are discussing the incident with a friend or your spouse. Consider each of the comments above and gauge your reaction.
Unheard? Disproved? Yup!
Even if we communicate our dissatisfaction without intending to invalidate our children’s experience, it may nevertheless have a detrimental effect on our children’s self-esteem and sense of place in the world.
Validating children’s experiences is a critical component in teaching youngsters to regulate their emotions. When we as youngsters feel heard and understood, we develop an ability to trust our own experience. And we must learn to accept the reality of our feelings, needs, and desires if we are not to make self-sacrifices in order to please others.
Parenting Mistakes That Promote People-Pleasing Behavior: #2: Attempting to Change Your Child’s Perspective Too Frequently.
Another way we undermine our kid’s experience is by attempting to convince our youngster too fast to understand another’s point of view.
Assume your kid or adolescent returns home and recounts an unpleasant incident with you about another student at summer camp or school. To assist your kid in feeling better, you may attempt to get them to see the other child’s point of view. Although well-intentioned, jumping in and taking the other child’s side immediately has the potential for two negative consequences.
To begin, your kid will very certainly understand your reaction to suggest that you believe the other person’s emotions, wants, and experience are more significant than your own (which is the polar opposite of what you meant).
Second, this technique unwittingly teaches your kid to put the emotions of others ahead of their own. And, especially for more sensitive youngsters, it’s a natural progression for them to grow more concerned with the emotions of others and to reject their own (again, possibly this was not what you hoped for).
It’s perfectly reasonable that you wish to assist your youngster in gaining an understanding of another’s viewpoint. When you reply in this manner, though, you are marginalizing their emotions and experiences. Why? Because their primary obligation IS to properly experience their own feelings! And then to self-regulate and care. Our attention and goodwill for others are most real and empathetic when we consider ourselves as well.
As parents, one of our responsibilities is to ensure that our kid does not reject their emotions. It is our obligation to assist children in processing significant events so they may create a healthy connection with their emotions and avoid impeding their emotional growth.
Parenting Mistakes That Promote People-Pleasing Behavior: #3: Efficiency mode.
Let us be honest. Parenting may be difficult, even more so when both parents work or when you are raising a kid as a single parent. Or maybe you’re navigating a difficult, mixed family that requires every ounce of energy.
When we are overburdened by life or our responsibilities as a parent, we often go into efficiency mode. We lack the time and resources necessary to slow down, actually listen to, and be there for our children. Rather, we resolve their issues quickly in order to move on to the next chore on our endless to-do list.
Before we get into how efficiency affects our relationship and parenting success, let’s define efficiency.
Generally, when we want to improve our efficiency, we seek to simplify our activities and outputs, taking less time and effort. According to the Oxford definition, efficiency is “the characteristic of doing something successfully without wasting time or money.”
According to Herbert A. Simon’s article in The American Economist,
“Because economic costs are more easily quantifiable than social costs, efficiency may actually result in an increase in social costs.”
Improving the efficiency of a factory or a school is simple, as long as you don’t worry about contaminated air or minds turned off to learning…. In a word, we are more efficient when we consume quick food rather than quality cuisine.”
And if we consume fast food on a regular basis, we will pay a price in terms of health. When we parent “effectively,” we inevitably degrade our bond with our kid, so impeding their socioemotional development. Thus, how does efficiency manifest itself in parenting?
The following are some examples:
Carrying a child who can walk out of need or to keep them from uncomfortable exploration.
COST: Prevents children from practicing gross motor skills, inhibits their independence, and promotes passivity.
Speaking for or completing sentences for young children, particularly those who are bashful or have a slower rate of sentence completion.
COST: The child loses chances to develop linguistic and social skills and may perceive the interruption by the parents as a lack of respect for what they have to say.
By taking care of your child’s tasks and creating excuses for them, rather than asking them to contribute to the household.
COST: The child is denied chances to develop happy feelings by contributing to “community” good. The child is denied opportunity to exercise skills and accomplish something meaningful even if it is not fun (i.e., self-discipline).
Your youngster puts off starting a scientific project until the last minute. You don’t want them to stay up late, so you arrange for them to attend one (or complete the one they started).
COST: When we bail out our children, they avoid the repercussions associated with learning to manage their time more effectively.
When your youngster misbehaves, becoming enraged and behaving angrily.
COST: The child learns to conceal information from their parents in order to avoid upsetting them and, more often than not, learns to seek acceptance or avoid condemnation rather than developing internal motivation.
Commands and coercion through barking.
COST: The child may obey but will dislike it; this often results in power battles. They are deprived of the opportunity to develop initiative, resourcefulness, accountability, and self-management.
These episodes may seem little, but when repeated throughout a kid’s growth, they serve as a forerunner to a youngster relinquishing oneself via pleasing, obedience, and avoiding disagreement. Equally significant, we lose out on vital discussions, opportunities to better understand our kid, and critical teaching moments.
Every parent makes an effort. Parenting is a 24-hour profession that requires an enormous amount of love. Be kind to yourself and engage in self-care.