Family

  • My Child Says Mean Things to Me, What Should I Do?

     

    I’ve recently become more active in parenting facebook groups, lending advice to expecting and new parents. This morning, I stumbled upon a post and had to do a double take, where I couldn’t help but lend my expertise because the poster said she was only venting but seemed almost desperate in their post to the group. The post stated the mom’s feelings were hurt because her three-year-old son told her that he doesn’t like her and he would prefer to reside with his estranged father. She also revealed that she had a one-month-old newborn.  One commenter reply was that the kid is three and the mom should just get over it.  I thought to myself, this mom is reaching out to a group of strangers seeking advice on how to get your kids to stop saying they don’t like you.  It really resonated with me I felt like she was sincerely asking for help in what she hoped was a safe space.

    The crazy thing about having a background in child development is you just can’t turn it off.  So, I couldn’t help myself, I just had to comment.  I said,

    Since your son lives with you full-time, you provide him with the love and structure he needs.  Kids need structure but don’t always like it. He’s just trying to “escape” to where he thinks won’t be as structured.  Try not to take it personally because, at 3, he can’t differentiate between love and like, structure and chaos.  Just keep telling him that you love him and like him. Try not to react if he says he doesn’t like you.”

    My Child Says Mean Things to Me,

    What Should I Do?


    4 Ways to Get Your Child to Stop Saying They Don’t Like You.


    1. Try not to take it personally.

    I’m typically not an overly-emotional person. Insert anything involving my children and cue the waterworks. I’m sure the mom’s feelings were hurt when her son said that he didn’t like her.  I won’t imagine pretending to be able to comprehend the depth of that hurt, so I personally don’t think it is fair to tell her to just get over it, particularly when she is one-month postpartum. However, I think it is important to understand that young children oftentimes say things they don’t understand. They may repeat what they’ve heard without understanding context.

    Realizing that your child may be mimicking and not expressing their true feelings, it is important to keep things in perspective and turn the incident into a teachable moment for your family.

    2. Identify when the behavior occurs.

    The Facebook user mentioned that she also has a newborn. If the three-year-old tends to say that he doesn’t like mom mostly when she is busy with the baby and mom stops taking care of the newborn to interact with the older child, he may have learned that hurting mom’s feelings will make her stop paying so much attention to the new baby.  Have you ever heard of negative reinforcement?  Negative reinforcement occurs when something is removed as a result of a person’s behavior. Said behavior increases in the future because it leads to a favorable outcome.  In this case, the following occurs:

    • The three-year-old doesn’t like that mom is busy with the baby; (what happens before)
    • He tells mom that he doesn’t like her and wants to live with dad (this is the behavior);
    • Mom gets upset, stops taking care of baby and lectures the older child.  In other words, haha!  Mommy isn’t paying attention to the new kid. (favorable outcome)
    • The child learns that I can make Mommy pay attention to me. (negative behavior is reinforced)
    • Three-year-old keeps saying that he doesn’t like mom so she can stop interacting with baby and engage with him. (future behavior increases)

    Taking a step back from the situation in order to assess what occurs before, during and after the child says he/she doesn’t like mom or dad allows for a clearer path to identify potential triggers.

    3. Don’t immediately react or engage.

    Hearing your child say they hate you or don’t like you has got to feel like nothing short of a swift kick in the gut. I don’t care how many children you have, how educated you are, what your professional title might be or how many parenting magazines you’ve read.  Nothing prepares a parent, especially one who envelops their child with love, to hear those words from their little one. The initial reaction is likely for one to be taken back. And, that’s okay. We parents are humans. We have feelings and the ones we love most, even our children may sometimes hurt our feelings.

    The key to turning this whole thing around is how we respond to their words and/or actions. If you need a moment to collect yourself, take one.  Do not immediately react to what they’ve said.  Your initial reaction may be to show that you’re upset or respond to the child. Chances are, they are either waiting for your reaction or they have no clue what they have said, and how hurtful it may be until they see your reaction.  Regardless of what their mouth says, they look up to you, like you and love you.  Accordingly, they will feed off of your response. It’s up to the parent to take control of the situation by calmly responding in order to correct the behavior; thereby minimizing and ultimately eradicating future behavior. For example, the parent might diffuse the situation by sitting with the child at his/her eye level and:

    • Calmly and firmly state the issue – What you said was not very nice and it hurt my feelings.
    • Explain how their words affect When someone says something that is not nice they can hurt another person’s feelings.
    • Ask why – Find out what their intentions were and learn if they know what they did was wrong.  Do you know what it means not to like someone?  If they do know what it means, ask if they meant to hurt your feelings. Did you say that you didn’t like me so that you could make me feel sad? Continue the conversation at an age-appropriate level allowing the child to speak freely.
    • Teach them how to remedy – Explain that if they hurt someone’s feelings and are truly sorry, they may be able to help the person feel better by letting them know that they didn’t mean to hurt them and apologizing for their behavior.  This important step teaches the child that they’re not doomed if they make a mistake. You hurt my feelings. If you’re really sorry, then you need to tell me that you’re sorry and that you will try not to do it again.
    • Accept their apology I accept your apology.  
    • Reiterate the issue and state future consequences – What you said hurt my feelings. Thank you for making me feel better by saying I’m sorry. Now that you know that saying that you don’t like me isn’t a nice thing to say, if you do it again then you will have to sit in time out to think about what you’ve said.

    4.  Model Unconditional Love

    Now that you’ve taught your child the consequences of undesirable behavior, he/she may now think you don’t like him/her since they did something you don’t like.  This is your opportunity to make sure that your son/daughter feels your unconditional love.  After the situation has blown over, you can turn what he/she has learned from you as a vehicle to strengthen your bond. Saying something like, “I not only love you with all of my heart, I like you with all of my heart too.”  Your sweet child will likely be beaming from ear to ear from knowing you’ve not only forgiven him/her but also be assured that you like him/her.

    When excitedly planning gender reveals and baby showers, parents don’t ever think their may be a time when their child may intentionally direct hurtful words their way. Your child saying that he/she doesn’t like you may be a power move on his/her part to teach you a lesson. Instead of playing into your own hurt feelings or the child’s potential attempt to get you to engage with them, there are positive ways to change their behavior.

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  • The Key to Making Good Parenting Decisions

    A few years into this parenting thing and most of have a moment, or a few, where we have a complete meltdown.   Like the ugly cry in the car type of meltdown. Hopefully, that car cry doesn’t take place in the carline while waiting for the kids to get out of school but it is bound to happen. As a parent, it is so hard to know if you’re making the “right” decisions for your children.

    The hope is that we will be perfect parents but the harsh reality is that there are no perfect parents.  I encourage you to stop torturing yourself by trying to be the parent you saw on television. Claire Huxtable and June Cleaver and were both great moms but I’m willing to bet that even their real-life parent life didn’t parallel that of their fictional characters.  

    Grab a cup of coffee or tea as we explore how we can make good parenting decisions.

    1. Every Child is Not the Same

    If you have more than one child then you may have already realized that siblings, heck even twins, can behave like polar opposites.  My daughters, two years apart, are similar in many ways but couldn’t be more different in other ways.

     

    If you think that you’ll be able to take a parenting guide, follow each outlined step in order and be able to parent each of your children in the same manner, please close the “manual” and walk away slowly because you’re in for a long ride.  What works for one child may not, and probably won’t, work for the other children in your family. As individuals, we each respond differently to stimuli. Accordingly, it’s important to keep that in mind as we attempt to make good parenting decisions.  

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  • The Reality of Parenting

    Everywhere you turn there are resources to help expecting parents plan for their soon-to-be bundle of joy.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being a mom. Hands down, bringing two lives into this world have been my biggest accomplishments.  H O W E V E R, there are some things that I wasn’t prepared for that I wish I knew beforehand. 

     

    There will be no sugar coating here.  So, grab your favorite notepad because I’m sharing the raw and uncut version of what to really expect from parenthood. (more…)

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  • 4 Tips: Traveling with Children

    Who doesn’t love a vacation?  Vacationing is literally my favorite pastime. Take me to a warm beach and I’m a different kind of calm. Although I love vacationing, traveling to and from paradise can be overwhelming.  Life as a parent is stressful by nature. Traveling with babies and toddlers can be a disaster…if you don’t have a plan.

     

    The key to successful traveling with your young child lies within anticipating and planning around what might happen while en route. It’s imperative that you consider their typical schedule when booking your flight. Children need naps. Heck, some adults are cranky sans the nap.  It is really asking too much for a tired child to behave while trekking through the airport, standing in line for security checks, waiting for the adults in the party to be scanned, staying still while said adults put back on shoes, belts and collect belongs from the conveyor belt, go through customs, trek through the airport again to find the correct terminal and gate, sit there for an hour with parents who are hoping not to be delayed, stand in line to get on the plane, sit still while the adults maneuver getting their carry on luggage while ushering the kids out of the aisle before being trampled by folks rushing to the back of the plane and patiently wait for the plane to finally take off then sitting for about 4 hours to land, head to baggage claim and take a shuttle to the final destination.

     

    Does sound like a lot? Good, because it is.  Frankly, it’s a lot for everyone involved. This is especially true for a child under the age of 6.  

     

    1. If possible, book the flight around their naptime or bedtime (red-eye flights).

    I don’t care if I was traveling by plane or car, trips were scheduled to minimize bedtime disruption.  When I took my little ones from New York City to the Bahamas for the first time, we took a red-eye. They slept the entire time and my sanity was left intact.  I struggled a little with getting them and those darn rolling backpacks through the airport but considering everything else that could’ve gone wrong, that was a drop in the bucket.  Side note- Why do airports seem 1,000 times bigger when traveling with kids? You really do realize how tiny their little feet are when you’re attempting to rush and they just can’t keep up.   

     

    2. Book a window seat.  Mother nature is entertaining.

    Just trust me on this one.  Throw the shades up on a sunny day and a crying baby will be so amazed by the view that they’ll likely stop in their tracks. I still get mesmerized by the view so I get it.  If the little one isn’t as intrigued as I am, try engaging them by talking to them about what you’re seeing. “Oh Jordan, do you see that cloud? It looks like a doggie. Do you see one that looks like a fishie?”  That game can last for a long while if you’re willing to be creative.

     

     

    3. Book a seat near the front of the plane.

    Location. Location. Location. If the child is facing forward while crying in their seat, the noise will travel forward, disturbing fewer people. Remember life before kids? Looking at “those parents” wondering how on earth can they not control their crying kids at the restaurant or market? Fast forward to now and you not only wish you take back every glare you bestowed upon those poor parents but you will give the stare of death if passengers dare glance at you and your inconsolable child? It’s easy to get frazzled and unfocused if you have an entire plane staring at you.

    If passengers are annoyed, you won’t have to see them constantly looking back or shaking their heads in disbelief that a child is actually crying because his/her routine is thrown while stuck on a plane. Just focus on doing your best to comfort your child. Either they’ll likely join you in the “those parents” club one day too or they’ve forgotten how difficult traveling with small children can be for parents.  At any rate, it’s better to have annoyed passengers throw tantrums literally behind your back where you don’t have to deal with them or feel the need to constantly apologize for something beyond your control.

     

     

    4. Pack distractions.
    I’ve already exhausted you by taking you through a trip through a child’s eye. Pack their carry on bag accordingly.  Keep in mind that you will probably end up holding their carry-ons and yours. You might very well also end up carrying at least one child in addition to all of the bags if things don’t go according to plan. Be intentional about packing. Don’t just throw things into their bag.  

     

    Bring a variety of things to keep them engaged.  Pack the favorite teddy and toys that foster the use of the imagination without relying on technology.  You’ll have lots of time to play with them while in flight. 

     

    Preload your tablet or smartphone with their favorite movies. I never downloaded a movie on my iPad before I traveled with my daughters.  I found 3 very long child-friendly movies that they’ve both enjoyed in the past, 2 just as long movies that they’d never seen and splitter earphones so they could listen simultaneously. That was one of the smartest moves of my entire life! #winning

    Flying is no time to try new foods.  I don’t recall ever feeling satiated upon finishing a meal on an airplane.   Children are very cranky when they’re hungry. Do yourself a favor and pack their favorite foods. Feed them the perishable foods first, keeping in mind temperature and storage requirements.  The absolute last thing you need is a child with an upset stomach 35,000 feet in the air.

     

    The light at the end of the tunnel is that everything will be okay.  You will get through the trip to and from your destination.  You will create memories with your family.  It will be worth it.

    We’ve all been there and we’ve survived.  You will too. Happy travels!

     

     

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