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Who’s Fault Is It?

Have you ever wondered why your teen goes from being pleasant and cooperative to blowing up at you or trying to hurt herself for apparently no reason?

There may be a reason.

The Biosocial Theory states that emotional dysregulation is the result of both nature and nurture.  Some children are just born more highly sensitive than others. 

A highly emotional person seems to overreact to what seem like minor events or situations.  They go from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds, but they may take a long time to return to a calm state. 

But just because a person is born highly sensitive, does not necessarily mean that a person will develop mental health issues.  Mental health issues can arise when a person who is highly sensitive is exposed to an invalidating environment.

Here’s an example: 

A child is born into a family with a history of obesity.  Both parents are obese, they are physically inactive, and don’t eat a lot of healthy foods.  That child has a higher chance of being obese.

On the other hand, that same child with the same family history of obesity, may have parents who are active, eat properly, and generally maintain a healthy lifestyle.  That child may not have any weight or health issues at all.  Even though the child is predisposed to obesity, because the environment is healthy, she is less likely to be overweight.

Sometimes a highly sensitive child is born into a family that is not aware of her sensitivity issues and respond in the best way they know how, believing they are truly being helpful.

For example, your teen comes to you crying because her friend didn’t say ‘hi’ to her at school.  As a parent, you want to help her feel better.  You may say, “It’s ok.  You don’t have to cry about it.”  “She probably didn’t even see you,” or “I’m sure, it’s nothing.” 

While these statements may seem helpful and may be comforting to another child (perhaps another child in your family), to a highly emotional teen, they are not helpful.  This may trigger anger or she may shut down, because she doesn’t feel understood or validated.  For her, a helpful statement might be, “I’m so sorry that hurt you.” 

Don’t worry.  You are not a bad parent.  Your teen is not flawed in some way.  Her brain is just wired differently from the other members of the family.  It’s like your teen is speaking Spanish and the rest of the family speaks Mandarin.  The key is for all the members of the family to communicate in a language that everyone understands.

Read this blog article on Validation:

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