Do you have dreams that you want YOUR CHILD to achieve? Get a hold of yourself. Here are some signs someone is projecting on others.
What can you read in this article?
- Signs that you’re projecting on your child
- Wanting your child to succeed – when does it become more about you than her?
“Like mother like daughter,” or “Like father, like son.” As parents, it’s natural for us to want our child to inherit something that is “ours,” like a positive trait that we think we have. Sometimes, we even say that we want our children to be “better version of ourselves.”
But is it even fair to expect that our child will want the same things, the same dreams as us? Do you really want the best for your child? Or are you just projecting parts of you to her?
Signs that someone is projecting
According to Karen R. Koenig, a licensed psychotherapist, motivational speaker, and author of several parenting books, projection refers to unconsciously taking unwanted emotions or traits you don’t like about yourself and attributing them to someone else.
For example, your boss keeps reminding you about coming to work on time, when it is really him who is struggling with punctuality. Or if someone keeps talking and talking and you interrupt, they may accuse you of not being a good listener and wanting attention.
In this context, projection is when you take an unacceptable part of yourself, such as your feelings, thoughts, tendencies, and fears, and place it onto your child. Ironically, it is also when you have unattained dreams or goals that you are unknowingly transferring your child.
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For instance, when I was young, I was very shy. I wasn’t a popular kid in school and I didn’t have a solid set of friends until I reached high school.
Fast forward to a few years ago, when I attended my child’s first orientation for big school. She didn’t want to play with the other kids and join the activities.
I was so worried for her. I kept pressuring her to join and make at least one friend. But she didn’t and I almost ended up making a scene if I didn’t take time to breathe.
When I has some time to reflect on that scenario, I realized that I was projecting my fears, anxieties and insecurities to my child. I was anxious over her not having a friend, and being shy in school. I worried about her being bullied and not being able to thrive in school because she was shy.
Later on, I realized that those were indeed my issues, not hers. She was simply not ready to make friends yet.
If we don’t keep our own issues and anxieties in check, we might unconsciously transfer these to our children, and let them carry the burden, which is actually ours to be.
So how do you know if you are unintentionally putting your own issues to your child? Here are some signs that someone is projecting. And in this case, that someone is you.
5 signs you’re pressuring your child to be like you
You make decisions for your child without consulting them.
When it comes to their health and safety, it is our responsibility as parents to act on their behalf. But if it’s about everyday decisions like what they want to wear, who they want to be friends with, and what they want to do with their time, don’t assume that what you want is the same as what your child wants.
Yes, you may be attuned to each other’s preferences, but you still need to check in with your child and consult them on things that involve them in a major way.
You sign her up for ballet, sports, or other things that you weren’t able to try when you were young.
Maybe you’ve had a hard life and didn’t experience luxuries that you wish you had. So now that you’re a parent, you want to give your child everything that you didn’t have. It’s just natural. But have you ever considered if it’s in line with what or who your child wants to be?
Classic example – you wish you did ballet when you were a kid. So you signed your daughter up for ballet lessons not knowing that she wants to enroll in martial arts.
I was so bad at sports when I was young, so I wanted my kids to try sports. I wanted to live vicariously through them. But none of them were really interested in any sport at the moment because they all want to be good at drawing and arts.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting our children to experience the things we didn’t, we need to check in with ourselves if we’re doing this to make them happy or it’s just to fulfill a dream or fantasy that we had.
You shield your child from things that you aren’t personally comfortable with.
If you were shamed or traumatized as a child, you may have a lot of worries or anxieties growing up. You might be worried that people are always judging you or they think that you are not good enough.
So when your child wants to put herself out there and explore some things on her own, you discourage her, to shield her from what can possibly happen.
But while your intentions are good, that may hinder your child’s development and prevent her from developing resilience and other skills she needs to thrive.
Let your child experience things on her own. If she succeeds, then great. If she fails, then she’ll still learn some valuable lessons and you will always be there to support her when she needs it.
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You expect your child to do EXACTLY as you say.
Because you want them to succeed and avoid running into things or situations that you struggled with, you do your best to teach your child the ropes of doing things. You assume that your way is the best way. And when your child tries to do it differently, you get hurt or become defensive.
You may think that deviating from the plan is a sign of defiance or that your child is rejecting your opinions, but in reality, she is just trying to find a different way that works and she is just practicing her independence.
You expect too much from your child.
Because you think of your kid as an extension of yourself, you unknowingly put pressure on him to either be like you or excel in ways you weren’t able to.
Sometimes, we may expect our children to carry on our own dreams or pursue our interests rather than finding their own.
You didn’t become a doctor because your parents didn’t have enough money to send you to a good school. Now that you are a parent providing your child with the best resources, you may think, “We give you everything that you need. So we expect you to do better. You can be a doctor.” We fall into the trap of being perfectionists or helicopter parents.
But what if the child has different dreams and goals for himself? Expecting too much or putting too much pressure on your child to succeed might even give him the idea that he is not enough and you don’t love him for who he is.
How to move past projections
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As a mom, I suffer from anxiety and projecting these to my children. But knowing this and being aware of this allows me to reflect on the things that I’m doing that might affect them negatively. For me, what helps is taking deep breaths when I start to feel anxious and remember that my child is different from me. She is her own person.
One thing that can also help us break the cycle is to confront our problems and insecurities. This way, we deal with our issues on our own and avoid passing them on or projecting them to someone else, especially our kids.
Being open to what your child wants and how she feels can help us check if what we want is aligned to what they want for themselves. Let your child make decisions, and allow her to make mistakes. Her experiences will be different from yours. Why? Because she has a parent who is willing to help her grow and thrive.
Finally, tell your child that you love her for who she is and make her feel that more than anything, you want her to be the happiest version of herself.
Healthline, Psychology Today, PsychAlive