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‘Evil’ cats and ‘bad’ dogs

Are you responsible for passing on superstitions to your kids?
big angry cat
By Scott Dunlop

Pic: Shutterstock

If you took a group of kids and made them perform certain actions, you’d probably find out that lots of them are superstitious. They weren’t born that way, either; nobody comes out of the womb refusing to roll under ladders or put up umbrellas inside the house. At some point, between birth and adulthood, they are taught to avoid the imagined risks of superstitions. Chances are, the parents are responsible for allowing this to happen.

Most of the superstitions are relatively harmless. Unless a horseshoe falls off the wall where it has been hung with the pointy bits facing upwards and hits you on the head, it doesn’t have any effect on the way events will turn out.

Don't say 'you-know-what!'

Some of the most commonly repeated superstitions are the ones associated to reversing ‘bad luck’ or ‘evil’. Friday the 13th and the accidental breaking of a mirror are popular, as are knocking on wood and black cats bringing either good or bad luck, depending on which continent you are.

Do your kids get nervous around howling dogs, fearing that death is going to visit, or throw a pinch of spilt salt over their shoulder, just in case?

At its most debilitating, believers in superstitions develop fixated behaviour which, to the non-believer, appears quite irrational. Superstitious behaviour is not the same as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in which sufferers feel compelled to repetitive actions, sometimes to the point of being unable to function, although the two are occasionally linked by those examining compulsive behaviour.

'But mom always does that...'

Many children, when asked why they exhibit superstitious behaviour simply reply that ‘my mother does that’. Likewise, grown-ups may refer to the way their grannies used to do things when questioned about their actions.

When does it start to become unhealthy?

When superstitious behaviour becomes an obsession, though, it may be time to seek help- a child who fears something ‘terrible’ happening should he not respond in a certain way to some object or event, or lives in fear of ‘bad luck’ is being unnecessarily restricted. While it’s normal for kids to enjoy a certain amount of ritual, if your child is unable to function properly at home or school because of irrational fears, you may need to seek out advice.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

What superstitions exist within your family?

Read more on: ocd  |  superstitions  |  fear  |  parenting  |  scott dunlop

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2015-03-27 10:24

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