It happens to almost every parent. It could happen when your child is a fuming preschooler, or a haughty tween. Doesn’t matter. It still hurts. A lot. Even the sweetest child can hurl one of these statements out when they don’t get what they want or aren’t allowed to do something.
The biggest question isn’t “Why are they saying that?” but “How do I respond?” There are a few choices I can think of that don’t involve nasty threats or violence. Let’s drill down and see if there is one that rises above the crowd:
- “But I love YOU!” Hardly ever a winner. Said with a warm smile or through gritted teeth, this rarely works well to alter a child’s attitude. It seems that they work harder to explain why they are so annoyed/disgusted/irritated with you.
- “Don’t you ever speak to me that way again!” Well, you have drawn your line in the sand. Let’s hope you have a consequence that you are willing to administer, because it is likely that you will be hearing this again. Maybe soon.
- “Wow, that hurts me” OK, that sounds heartfelt and honest. The problem is that at this moment, your child may be trying to hurt you. You have just informed your child that success has been achieved. In the long run they probably aren’t sociopaths, and they probably will regret hurting you. But right now? They aren’t in a place in which they care about your feelings as much as you’d like.
And the answer that might just work?
- ” You are really, really mad at me right now” Stating how they feel using a fraction of the energy and emotion that your child is spewing is, wait for it….The Happiest Toddler on the Block’s Fast Food Rule. Yes, the same strategy you use when your two year-old’s cookie falls on the floor can help you with this situation as well. Because making it clear to the upset person that you “get” them, even if you don’t agree with them, can dissipate some of the indignant venom fast. You might have to repeat it again after you hear more words about what an idiot you are, or what a bad mommy you are. Only after you see that they have dialed down some of the venom can you offer a solution, a trade, or a bit of commiseration. Why? Because jumping in too soon sends the message that what you’d truly like is to shut them up. That will not be good.
Want more information on THTOTB strategies? Read Help Your Child Develop Self-Regulation With Happiest Toddler On The Block and Stretch Your Toddler’s Patience, Starting Today!.