How Our Childhood Messes Us Up - The Confidence Clinic

How Our Childhood Messes Us Up


I find it fascinating that between the age of 0-7 years of age, we have experiences that set up our ‘blueprint’ for the rest of our lives. I say fascinating, but its also very scary when you are the parent of 0-7 year old children. What are we doing to them? and what are the implications for the future?

When I learnt more about adults that had fears and phobias, and how they all originated in childhood, I wanted to hear more… I heard some amazing stories. There was a woman who, as an adult was completely terrified of mice – it turned out that when she was a baby her mother was checking in on her at night, she saw a mouse creeping across her pink blanket, when she was lying in her cot, the mother (who hated mice)  screamed her head off. The child saw the mouse and heard the screams. She learnt her first wrong connection – MICE = BE AFRAID.

Another was about a man who had a terrible fear of heights, as a young boy he was dangled over a nearby river upside down, by some older boys. The boys were joking around, and eventually let the young boy go. But the fear remained in him – he was petrified. His wrong connection was HEIGHTS = BE AFRAID.

I’ve come across many children, with different variations of this same issue. One was a young boy, who was nipped by a dog when he was 2. He hadn’t realized there was anything to be afraid of and stuck his hand into the dogs face… probably poking him/ annoying him, he got such a shock when the dog bit him. This kid learnt the wrong connection – DOGS (AND ANY ANIMALS WITH SHARP TEETH) = BE AFRAID. It became so bad that the shark in Finding Nimo would cause him such fear he would wet the bed.


There are some unusual cases, like kids afraid of stickers, balloons and butterflies. I know a common fear is being afraid of the dark, (this is sometimes due to watching scary movies, or hearing spooky stories) and some are afraid to be on their own this can be due to being lost as a child or feeling abandoned. So think about what the cause might have been, when our kids never want to feel isolated, ignored or laughed at. Some kids are afraid to stand up for themselves or be heard.  I know someone who was ignored by their mother when they acted up, the result was a desire to be friends with everyone,  in order to never feel that rejection again. It all goes back to some ‘wrong connection’. You can imagine all the stories, memories, situations – as adults, some are well gone from our conscious memories, they lurk in our sub-conscious, stopping us from fully enjoying our lives or engaging in certain things, pushing us a certain way. Making us worry or obsess about certain things. There is always a way to correct these wrong connections. Hypnotherapy is an amazing tool for adults to help with this.  The huge part of it is; self awareness and a desire to change.


I hope that by highlighting the above stories, you realize how easy it is, for kids to make the wrong connections. If we are quick to recognize a wrong connection is being made – we can then help explain things, and nip it in the bud quickly.  Even if we don’t, the good news is, in general kids are so much quicker to change than adults (they are not as set in their ways).  I wanted to help my kids to undo some wrong connections they had made. So, one night recently, I explained this concept to my girls at bed time, using very simple language. I told them that we can all make wrong connections, when we’re young, we don’t know any better, we are learning so much during that age (0-7 years), we are sponges and soak everything up. But if we soak up the wrong thing, its not helpful at all. As children, we have so much to learn, we don’t question things (that only happens when they get to age 8/9).  I told them that I myself made the wrong connection about mice, but I have it sorted out now (don’t get me wrong I don’t want to share my home with them, but I’m okay with them, not terrified or disgusted any more). I helped them realize that they may have made the wrong connections but I can help them with them.


If  your kids have made some wrong connections, talk to them and try to explain it in a calm caring way, (i.e. not when your exasperated or worn out by them,) do your best to allow them to be aware of whats happened, and help reassure them, that it can be corrected. Self awareness is the key. Help them to realize their thinking and try to catch that thought. Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, is very useful- it replaces the negative or ‘wrong’ thought for a more helpful one. It is just like reprogramming the mind. With children we can use imaginative tools or stories to help them along the way. For example if a child has made a wrong connection such as SPIDER = BE AFRAID, you could try get them to appreciate what spiders do, coming up with a magical spider story or connecting it to spider man and magic webs, or read Charlottes web and help them to swap the ‘afraid part’ with a sentence like ‘spiders are amazing’.  If its too much to handle yourself, don’t be afraid to get some help for them.


I know that we can help our kids, if they have made the wrong connections. But I also want to make sure they make some good ones too. Healthy ones. I’d rather they didn’t think ‘Oh, when I’m older, or if I do well in school, or if I’m good at my job, or win/achieve something, this will make me happy’.  I don’t want them always striving for more, and never appreciating the now. I’m trying to teach them happiness won’t come from getting to a certain age, or winning something, material things or money – if it does it won’t last long. I would love my kids to make the connections that happiness comes from gratitude, from happy moments, fun times, being in the moment, enjoying nature, mindfulness, love, relationships, finding your purpose and passions,  making a difference, doing what you love, being creative, getting satisfaction from helping others. This is my challenge, to help them to connect the right dots.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking or commenting, and please let me know if you or your children need any help with breaking the wrong connections. If you would like any further information about ‘The Confidence Clinic’ please contact me:

Caoimhe xx


(+353) 0833425364

The Confidence Clinic Coaching is  now available in 3 Dublin locations; Blackrock, Malahide and Skerries, more to come throughout Ireland. We also offer online coaching through skype.

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