Adaptive Skills Learned in Childhood

What are the skills that you learned in your childhood that helped you meet your needs?

For example, did you become the class clown to get attention from your caregiver? When people laughed at you did you feel special? Do you remember finally getting the attention that you deserved?

Some children adapt to their family environment by playing roles, wearing masks. The perfect one, the achiever, the smart one, the scapegoat, the bad one, the helpless one, the victim. Children are smart and adapt quickly to get their psychological needs met.

Every child needs to feel significant – to belong. When children do not feel special in their family environment they will find ways to adapt to get those needs met. For example, if mom and dad are busy with work and home late, the child may get into trouble in school with the goal of getting their parent’s attention. If a child has a sibling who is physically ill that child may become the funny one in order to achieve special attention away from the sibling and a way to make mom and dad happy again. What are your skills? What are you still using that while it was quite rewarding as a child is no longer rewarding today?

For example, were you a people pleaser? Did you learn how to watch for signs of your caregiver’s bad mood which inevitably ended in a blow out so you learned how to caretake that giver to prevent the blowout? In this case do you still people please today in your relationships with your children, friends or partner?

Were you rewarded for anger in your home? You may have not been given the attention you needed unless you became really angry and now you find that this is your go-to for attention in your adult relationships today? However today you find that you actually push people away with your anger?

Were you the fixer in your family? The one that your parents turned to for advice? Were you their little counsellor? You were parentified and now spend most of your time in relationships being the fixer. As an adult you find yourself drained and tired, continuing to put other’s needs ahead of your own?

Take a moment to think about what adaptive skills you learned that are no longer working for you and consider letting this skill go.