Unfortunately, we’ve seen a rise in acts of terrorism over the past several years. Schools across the country now have lock down drills in addition to regularly scheduled fire drills so that students and school personnel should be prepared in case of emergency. According to cbsnews.com, the number of mass shootings, where four are more people were shot, ” so far in 2019 has outpaced the number of days this year, according to a gun violence research group. This puts 2019 on pace to be the first year since 2016 with an average of more than one mass shooting a day. As of Aug. 5, which was the 217th day of the year, there have been 255 mass shootings in the U.S., according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which tracks every mass shooting in the country.”
These statistics are both alarming and nerve wracking to all of us, to say the least. Children, by nature, are the most vulnerable physically, emotionally and mentally. I’ll reassure you by sharing this before I cover how you can help children deal with disaster. When asked for years to follow, what a child in my care remembered about the events on the day of a national disaster, his response was “green apples.” So, how do we help our children cope with tragedy?(more…)
I remember speaking to my cousin one day when we were in our early 20’s. We were both college graduates, starting our careers. She was an engineer and real estate investor. I was a nonprofit strategist and had just purchased my first home. Neither of us had children at the time. She was traveling all of the time for work and was rarely home. She mentioned that she had a housekeeper who would come in and clean her home, as she didn’t have time.
At the time, it struck me as a little odd, as I hadn’t really known anyone personally to have a housekeeper. So, I asked her why she felt like she needed a housekeeper if she was the only one living in her home and I will never forget her reply. She said, “I don’t have time to get to the small details like cleaning my baseboards.” I laughed to (and at) myself, it takes me 12- 15 hours per week to clean my home and I know for certain that I miss the baseboards most of the time. It was one of those conversations in passing that I never really thought about until years later. In the meantime, I kept up with my weekly cleanings, mostly splitting the time over the weekend. Cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen on a Friday night with the music blasting, sometimes while indulging in a little bubbly then finishing up the rest of the house on an early Sunday morning was my usual routine.
Fast forward to 2013 and life was very different. My children, then 7 and 9, were busy with school, ballet and piano. Running educational services firms in multiples states and holding a hefty real estate investment property load, my businesses were in full swing. At the same time, Working Mother Magazine was collaborating with Diane Sawyer and the World News to cover a story about busy working moms struggling to find balance. The producers at ABC learned about the things I was doing and decided to have me share my story to represent working mothers all over the world.
I quickly realized after speaking with the producers over the phone, that life in the spotlight moves at lightning speed. They told me that a camera crew would be coming to meet me at my home within the week and they’d be following my family and me around for three days filming our every move.
I was honored and shocked that the world-renowned, Ms. Diane Sawyer caught wind of my regular little life and saw fit to choose me of all people to be on tv. Can’t you just see me smiling from ear to ear while happy music is blaring in the background? Well, cue the DJ to scratch the record because just as quickly, complete panic set in. ABC PRODUCERS ARE COMING TO MY DIRTY HOUSE. Ohh em gee! Did they say that they’d be here in a few days? Looking at the unorganized fridge, in the cracks and crevices that I thought were pristine when it was just my family and me and around the dusty baseboards that I swore would be amplified by the network’s “good” cameras, my vision became like Instagram’s superzoom. How was I going to scrub this house from top to bottom to prepare for the world to see my house, keep up with my weekly chores of laundry, cooking and washing dishes while working, parenting and driving my kids around from activity to activity like UberMom? The only thing I could do was work smarter, not harder. It was time to follow my cousin’s advice.
I scoured the internet for a maid service in the area. There were so many. I had no experience in the area? How should I choose? I had no clue. How could I be sure that they wouldn’t take anything? Was I going to really let a stranger into my home, my sanctuary, and give up my privacy in exchange for a quick clean? Cue in every Lifetime movie where the mom hires the crazy helper that ends up terrorizing the house. After carefully thinking about how overwhelmed I was on a regular day and weighing it against the reality that lots of people hire help with no problems, I decided that the only sane thing to do was hire a cleaning service.
My friend, a fellow working mompreneur, also has a stressful career and multiple children. Her home was a decent size and was always clean. I wasn’t sure if she was just the perfect mom or if she hired help so I did something I hadn’t done before…I simply asked. She was more than receptive to my inquiry. She gave me a knowing look as if she had been in my shoes and revealed that she hadn’t thoroughly cleaned her house herself in years. She immediately texted me the number and for the first time, in a long time, I felt like I was being invited off of the island we oftentimes call parenthood. You know, where the mommy/daddy guilt kicks in because it’s unrealistic to accomplish everything we imagined we could do before we actually became parents. Does that sound familiar?
When I tell you that I am completely over the mommy guilt I used to hold on to before initially hiring the service to clean my home. I couldn’t be more serious. What took me close to 15 hours to complete on a weekly basis took the cleaning ladies 3 hours. Let me say that again for the folks in the back that may have missed it. One phone call gave me back 15 hours of my week. Everything in place, bed linens changed and the entire house smelled like the cleaning aisle at the supermarket.
I was able to tape my segment over 3 days and I didn’t have to lift a finger, broom, mop, etc. I looked like the “perfect mom” too. And, I was. Not because my house was ridiculously clean or because I was fancy enough to hire help. I finally come to realize that asking for help was okay and that my previous assumptions that I’d previously made about other moms were based on a falsehood.
While waiting for my daughters to arrive home from school to tape their segment, I had to opportunity to chat with supermom and ABC anchor Amy Robach about how she balances her busy life. As we bonded over our mommy guilt moments, I realized again that most mothers found the need to have help with tasks they used to conquer before having a family.
Prior to talking to both women, I had been working on ways to expand my existing business, a tutoring service, to include other services that parents found useful. However, once my segment aired and so many parents expressed how overwhelmed they were by the demands of parenting, working and running a household, I realized that there were lots more working mothers in the same situation than I had imagined. It was the reaction of those parents that gave me the permission I was looking for to close my tutoring service and create a more inclusive and comprehensive service for parents than had ever existed on the market. Shortly after my segment aired, I formed Kid Care Concierge, a concierge service for busy parents like me who would no longer feel guilty about need to hire help.
5 years later, we have tutors, helpers, sitters and almost every other service that one could think of helping overwhelmed parents. Like a concierge service in a hotel, my staff does everything for parents after just one call. My first client was myself because I was in desperate need of help. Ironically, I was scrolling through a Facebook “mom group” last week and I stumbled upon a post from a mom looking for recommendations for a cleaning service. What I found most interesting was that she sounded like me years back, justifying why she was looking for help as if it was not okay. I inboxed her to reassure her that perfect moms don’t exist and it was okay to need help. We all do!
As I sit at home after working at my office all day, I’m sitting in my kitchen with my daughters cooking dinner together as I type this post. At the same time, my staff is upstairs taking care of the weekly cleaning. I feel ZERO guilt.
That is an absolute lie. Words do hurt. They not only hurt, but they can also have a sting that forever lives in one’s inner core. As parents, we oftentimes feel what our children feel. When they hurt, we hurt; albeit an illness or emotional harm. If you’re a parent of a child who has low self-esteem or has been the victim of bullying, then you probably understand this better than most.
Children with low self-esteem are likely to internalize what is said to them which may lead to ruminating thoughts. Rumination is when one dwells on negative thoughts, focusing on what they’ve done wrong and what they should’ve or could’ve done differently. These circling thoughts may lead to a negative self-image.
According to the official government website, stopbullying.gov, “The most common types of bullying are verbal and social.” Some studies suggest as many as ⅓ of US school children report that they have been bullied. All of these statistics are alarming but when they hit home, they hit a little differently.
We send them out into the world and hope that they’ll be okay but sometimes we can’t be there to shield them. Since building a fort and never letting them leave isn’t a healthy option, how do we help protect our children from harsh words?
As infantile as it may seem, providing your child with positive affirmations before, during and after incidents or periods of verbal abuse may in some ways, safeguard children from being as affected. Let’s be clear, positive praise isn’t a substitute for therapy. Therapy is always strategic and usually long-term. Therapists teach clients essential coping skills and techniques to unpack emotional baggage in a safe environment. In addition to seeking professional treatment, parents and educators can pump great energy by way of positive affirmation into children which, in turn, combats some of the negativity that may be thrust upon them. Just as “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” rings in song in most of our heads as we repeat it, positive affirmations work the same way.
Hopefully this visual can illustrate the effectiveness of positive words. Do you see the one phrase that doesn’t fit? It’s enveloped amongst positivity. It’s difficult to spot. It’s not isolated. It doesn’t really stand a chance amongst the warm insulation of what surrounds it.
When one of my daughters was in the second grade, she began to feel isolated and ultimately bullied by some of the girls in her grade. She attended a small school with less than thirty children per grade, so it was very easy to feel isolated. I heard her crying to herself one evening long after she was supposed to be asleep. When I inconspicuously asked her about what was bothering her over morning breakfast, she revealed that some of the girls were saying mean things and talking in front of her as if she were invisible. I’ll be honest, the initial wave of anger had to dissipate before I could think with a completely sound mind. I realized I need to do something to cure her wound that was, for the first time in her young life, not physically visible.
Since my girls were born, I made a conscientious effort to greet them every single morning with a cheerful “Good morning!” I just believe that children should wake up knowing that someone is happy to see them and is looking forward to speaking to them. I’ve also taught them to greet me the same way. I don’t give much care to the whole, I’m not a morning person thing. One of my girls is a complete morning person like me, the other is the complete opposite. My rule is that we don’t have to have long drawn out morning conversations until you’re ready but we will acknowledge our appreciation for seeing each other wake to experience another day by greeting one another upon first glance. It’s now a natural occurrence and unbeknownst to them, I’ve also taught them that they are worthy of acknowledgment by not only myself but by others around them.
Once this incident happened, I began pumping them with morning affirmations. One of my favorite things to do was crawl into bed to steal a few morning minutes with my little ones. While there I’d whisper:
You are kind. You are smart. You are beautiful. You are an amazing person. Today is going to be a great day.
She resisted me at first but that too became the norm. After she got used to me saying it daily, I had her repeat it with me. When other instances of bullying occurred, I’d remind her of her greatness and put in perspective that what her peers said didn’t matter. Positive thoughts and phrases are easily incorporated into the school day, administrators can share them during morning meetings or over the intercom for daily announcements. Teachers can start off or end classes with words of encouragement. Kids thrive when they know they have a sound support team.
More and more, great schools are incorporating positive affirmations into their school day. Parents and instructional leaders must be partners in the educational process every step of the way. This partnership must include a process that eradicates bullying as something that just happens, particularly in middle schools. Long gone are the days where we dismiss the cruel effects of verbal harassment and physical violence with “boys will be boys” or they’re just “mean girls”. As a society, we now know better, so it’s important for adults to do better by understanding and emphasizing the importance of speaking positivity into existence. When speaking to children, think back to the key principle that we all learned in kindergarten, use your words. Just remember to use them wisely because words do hurt and what we say matters.
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.