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How Triggers from Your Childhood Shape Your Parenting

Do you feel triggered?

Have you ever undergone an emotional outburst for no valid reason?

You child said or did something trivial, but you felt very angry, hurt, or helpless – When the reaction is bigger than the situation, it's probably a trigger!

The intense melodrama indicates that the intensity of the emotion you are experiencing has something else to do with it. And when these emotions are triggered, you get upset with the person who evoked these emotions in you.

emotional triggered parent

Hot tears roll down on my face; emotions turn jagged and my insides tight. I feel my heart bleed, when she slams the door and shuts me out of her world. As though I’m being punished, like I did something wrong. Every time my daughter makes me feel like my parents made me feel, my world crashes around me and I lose my sanity. I feel abandoned again.

What is an emotional trigger?

A trigger is an intense, emotional reaction to a present behavior that reminds you of something painful from your past and that impacts how you react today.

As I entered the room, I noticed there was a wet towel on the bed, clothes on the ground, and a mess everywhere. Everyday, I clean quietly, but today I lost my temper. Moreover, my son's insensible reply, "what's the deal, you're at home, just move it," made my blood boil. I screamed and yelled. I stayed fuming, burning in agony. I don't know whether it was his words or my own sense of worthlessness that drove me to cry the whole day.

How your childhood affects your parenting?

Our own childhood experiences shape our parenting style. We have our own unhealed wounds,

childhood resentments, and heartaches. All those times when we felt abandoned, not good enough, emotionally deprived. We falsely assume that our past emotions have no impact on our present; we have overcome them and left them behind us.

But, those unwanted dark emotions stay suppressed or hidden within us, and we generally stay unaware or live in denial.

Later, they turn into shadows. Shadow that stays with us, lies dormant, but cut off from our consciousness and ready to be activated any time. Whenever these emotions are triggered, we find ourselves upset with the person who evoked these emotions in us.

We tend to forget to find out the roots of our emotional pain; instead we get into drama whenever any external stimuli touches our unhealed self-wound.

Since our children are vulnerable and mostly powerless, we feel free to blame them for our reactivity. But the big question is, how are we going to nurture our children's spirits, when we don't nurture our own?

"When we are raised to suppress our darker emotions, these emotions form a shadow from which we are cut off. Whenever these emotions are triggered by another’s shadow, we find ourselves upset with the person who evoked these emotions in us." - Conscious parenting

How to know if you're feeling triggered?

"I get triggered when my child disrespects me," this could be the surface reason why you feel triggered. But ask yourself, is this the only thing you're upset about, or is there something at the back that is troubling you?

How to know what is troubling you?

At times, someone might unconsciously remind you of someone else, and when that happens your negative feelings are triggered. So, you're not actually angry at this person, but you're "transferring" your emotions onto them instead of the actual person who hurt you. T

The best way is to ask yourself:

Am I dealing with my child in an aware manner or am I being triggered by my past?

Am I reacting to the current situation or is this intense fury coming from some incidence happened to me in the past?

Does this incident remind me of when I was being wronged before, or in my childhood?

Am I holding some experience where I felt not good enough, unwanted, or humiliated?

I took candy from my three - year- old son's pocket. He fumed, cried and threw all his candies on the floor. Looking at our son’s cute grumpy face, we burst into laughter.
Infurated by our laughter, he started hitting me. While my husband was enjoying the adorable, teary-eyed baby tantrum; my face flushed, with clutched jaws and fists, I raised my hand to hit my child. Swiftly, my husband lifted him up and took control over the situation.
I don’t know what takes over me whenever my child hits me. I started panting, this was happening to me quite frequently. I do not know why, even the softest of punches from those tiny fists triggers rage inside me.
Within seconds, the body gets flooded with stress hormones. Increased heart-rate, sweating and muscle tightness make listening virtually impossible.
The anger within me takes a long time to settle down; till then I avoid looking at my child’s face, even when he cups my face with his small, soft, supple hands and gives me a warm hug. Once my emotions settled down, regret took over. I felt guilty and ashamed over my impulsive reaction.
Though, I started educating my child against hitting, hurting and throwing; but I could not comprehend my own emotional impulsive reactions.
Those small fists induce wrath and I feel horrified. My inability to control frustrated me.
Then a councilor friend of mine, asked me, "Are u feeling triggered?" She asked me to find out, my reaction could have roots in my past. There could be a possibility that I might be holding any distorted negative experience in my memory. Because of that I feel I am reacting to a present situation, but I could be linking it with any of the past incidence.
This insight invoked a terrible memory. When I was in a junior class, there joined a well-built, trouble maker bully in my class. He used to hit, punch, snatch lunch boxes and make fun of defenseless children. I remember, once when I refused to give him my lunch box, he clenched his fists and punched me hard in the gut. I fell and rolled on the floor in severe pain, while his gang went on laughing.
Though the school took action against him, but that incidence stayed with me for long, beside the severe pain, the anguish, hurt, humiliation stayed. Now I assume, it stayed with me till date. This was a shocking realization. I couldn’t believe I was reacting to my son based on some of my past negative experiences.
The moment I realized the underlying issue, I started feeling in control. Now I am working on both, teaching my child appropriate behavior and training myself to watch my reactions. My actions should be based on the present, not on some past negative incidence." - A mother shared her experience.

Why do those negative emotions come back?

We process and store memories in our brains when we sleep. Usually we remove the emotions associated with the memories while storing them. While few unprocessed and distorted memories are stored up, they often come back and haunt us unconsciously.

A trigger may unconsciously bring back memories and the negative emotions associated with it, without our conscious realization.

Occasionally, our parenting style reflects and gives glimpses of past dormant memories. When dealing with our children, any incidence may trigger past emotions and bring out actions on which we regret later.

If you find yourself in a position where you are often triggered then look at the beliefs you are carrying, You may not be aware of the beliefs because they are unconscious. Since our brain's primitive feature is to be in fight or flight mode, when we feel threatened, we react in this form.

What to do when you feel triggered?


Realization is the beginning, you feel in control when you know the emotions you are experiencing are based on the past experience, not the outcome of the present incidence, and then you need to let it go.


Identifying the reason at back helps you to sort out the issue.

  • Feeling like you're not enough or unworthy

  • Not feeling safe emotionally or physically

  • Feeling left out or abandoned

  • Feeling misunderstood or invalidated

  • Feeling disrespected or criticized

Now when you know what is bothering you.

  • Bring in the element of awareness

  • Get your attention to heal unresolved issues

  • Go inward, focus on your own growth and emotional resolution instead of reacting to the situation


Breath-Relax-Calm down:

Breath, Relax, and Calm down whenever you feel the urge to react. Reaction is usually impromptu. But once you identify it, you feel in control.

Accept the situation, do not judge; just let it pass, your anger is not going to resolve any issue it is going to disturb the situation, so once acknowledge, learn to let it pass the tremor which is shaking you.

The more helpful response to being triggered is to recognize your emotional charge as a signal that something is amiss within you.

If you feel uncontrolled, the best thing is to walk away from the situation.

Accept triggers without judgement

It’s important to separate the current situation from the past to get control of your reaction. Just the simple awareness that it comes from within your own self and not from the other person's actions, will enable you to suspend your thoughts long enough to shift out of reactivity and craft a response that’s more grounded


Our children seek validation; our words build their inner world, through which they see themselves. They act like sponges, absorbing our emotional imprint, energy, and behaviors, until that energy becomes their own emotional stamp.

They learn from us how to react to problems, conflicts, relations and the world. And that brings down a great responsibility on us to nurture their souls. But we can't nurture theirs until we nurture our own. Otherwise, we might unconsciously engender in them the same pain we endured in our childhood, passing on the pain that has been handed down for generations.

Share with us you experience and how have you act in such situations. Leave your comment. If you liked the article. Like share and subscribe.

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Hi there! I’m Muzna, the Founder and Editor of The Bliss Key, I live in San Francisco with my family and by profession I’m an eLearning consultant with more than a decade of experience, and a degree in Business Management and Instructional Design

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