My kids can say some pretty hurtful things – like the title of this post. (Although my response to “you’re not my friend” is usually “you’re right, we’re not friends.”) I’m very sensitive and I can take these insults quite personally. BCLC therapist RB gave us an article about this during our last session. The article, “‘I Hate You, Mom! I Wish You Were Dead!’ When Kids Say Hurtful Things” had some really practical advice. In the intro, the author writes, “It’s very important to understand that these hurtful words your child is using are not about you at all.” That was significant for me, because I tend to take things very personally.
The author goes on to explain why kids say these things. She writes, “kids often spout off hurtful words like these when they have a problem they don’t know how to solve, whether they’re angry, stressed, or dealing with feelings about something that happened at school that day.” Even though I know otherwise, when the kids are yelling at me, I sometimes feel that they are intentionally being cruel. This section reminded me that their behavior is often the result of stress.
The author goes on to describe what not do when your kids are insulting you. Here’s an abridged version:
1. Don’t say hurtful things back
2. Don’t scream or yell
3. Don’t say “you can’t …”
4. Don’t try to reason with your child in the heat of the moment
5. Don’t punish or give big consequences
Finally, here the author’s “do’s”:
1. Stay calm
2. Be aware of your nonverbal communication
3. Keep your verbal response direct and brief
4. If you’re struggling to stay cool, walk away
Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this behavior? If so, please share!