Projection

When I worked at a daycare, I realized real quickly that parents often projected how they felt onto their child. When I taught preschool every child had a cubby and during transition, we would have the kids sit in their cubbies. We only did this when one teacher could not do an activity with them during a transitional time. We found that a few kids were having a hard time keeping their hands to themselves so we moved a few cubbies. I remember we had one of the older preschoolers move their cubby to a new location. We had him help with the process so he would know where his cubby is locatedand to see how he truly felt about it. When mom came to pick her son up, she told me “That he would not like we moved his cubby.” I told her he helped move his belonging and showed no signs of being upset with the cubby being moved. It was the mother who didn’t like change. When you’re a full-time teacher in a classroom, you can get to know the parents well. 

One thing they taught us when we did an evaluation of a child was to not write what the child is feeling. We do not know what the child is feeling, but we can share what we see. If a child is smiling because they are playing with their favorite car. We would assume the child is happy, but we would put down the child was smiling as they played with the car. Until, a child can tell you they are happy we can only speculate. In doing so, we often push how we would feel about a certain situation onto the child. If we’re scared about something, then the child is scaredtoo. I wonder if parents even realize they do it half the time. As our child grows we want them to be sensitive to other people’s feeling and show they care on some level. I often tell people that P loves his brother Z. I don’t know if he loves his brother or even understands what that means at 2.5. What I know is that he will share his toys with him, give him kisses before going to bed, tries to tickle him, give him his pacifier even when he doesn’t need it, and get on the floor to talk to him. I would say he loves his baby brother because he doesn’t do this with the two kids I watch during the week.

Another observation with my 2.5-year-old. We figure that when we see our 2.5-year-old with his hand in his mouth he is nervous. Now we say this because we noticed that when he isn’t sure about a situation, he will only do this act during these times. We know it’s terrible when he has both hands in his mouth. He isn’t crying but you can see by his face he isn’t sure and/or happy about the situation. When he was in daycare, they showed him a Tickle Me Elmo and every time he saw it he would put his hands in his mouth. He didn’t cry but you can tell by his cues he wasn’t a fan of Elmo (thank God). When I had our second son Z a friend’s husband brought P3 to the hospital. In the room was daddy, poppop, grammy, my friend, and her husband who brought him. He typically gets excited when he sees his grandparents but this time he only had eyes for me. He didn’t want to get down, but he wanted to sit in the bed with me. No hands were in his mouth but we took this as it overwhelmed him with the situation. Pop pop tried to show him his baby brother, but he wanted nothing to do with him. He wanted to sit with me. One may assume he wasn’t excitedabout having a new brother and that he was jealous that mommy had a new baby, that was notthe case. I believe it overwhelmed him with waking up at a friends house with no mommy and then he was broughtto a new location. Once he sat with me for a little he loosens up and got down. He was then excited to see his grandparents and was open to see his brother.

I know I have to remind myself that I can only guess mostly what is going on with our children. I need to make sure I don’t project my feeling onto my child. Sometimes I said my child is in a bad mood but honestly he is most likely feeding off my attitude. Our mission is to help our child learn about the different feeling and over time they will truly come to understand them. They will recognize by someone faces how they are feeling. We know that we will not always know by the person’s face. Someone has told meI look pissed off, but it’s just my resting face. It’s even more confusing when someone is crying and we assume they are sad, but it’s because they are so overwhelmed with happiness. I can speculate why my child may do something but I can’t make an excuse for his/her behavior. 

One more example: I had a gender reveal party for our second child. We held the party at my work 15 minutes before service was about to start. We had a room full of people while we Live stream on social media. Once I cut the cake, I put the video on P3. I made a comment about him having a baby brother. He cried and everyone laughed. It was said he was sad that was having a brother. It could be easy to believe that having a sibling was upsetting, but two other factors were at play. He was sitting in a room with a large group of people who wanted his attention and it was almost his bedtime. Wednesday night where always hard because it interrupted our weekly routine. I believe he was too young to understand what was going on for it to upset him about having a brother. 

Have you ever pushed your own feeling onto your a child? How did you discover that you were projecting on your child? 

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