There are times when kids say things that seem like they are meant to hurt…and sometimes it does:
“I wish I were never born!”
“You don’t love me.”
“You love her more than you love me.”
“I wish I had another mother”
There are some things kids say every day that are easy to ignore. But, there are other times when they go for the gusto. They really cut deep with their words and all of a sudden we loose our grasp on reality and react. Your ears get red, your throat swells, or tears start to well up. It is amazing some of the things a 4 year old can say, but it happens.
It is important to think about this when there is no emotion involved, no thought about whether or not your child actually feels that way, and no inner thoughts telling you your kid might be right. It is important to have a plan and an understanding of why they say these things so you don’t end up teaching them to use these words more.
So, if you are in a fresh state of mind, let’s get a few things clear about why they say these things and what you need to do when it happens.
They don’t know these words hurt. They don’t know why. This is not the way they feel.
Understand that first. Repeat it to yourself in times of distress or when you are questioning yourself.
Are you sharpening the tool or making it dull?
Your kids use these words for a reason. The words are tools…a last ditch effort when all else has failed. It is an escalation in most cases, but an immediately strong reaction in others.
It might be a sign that your kid’s “attention cup” is running low. It might be the case they are telling you, “but, I really, really want that Transformer and you don’t seem to care how much I want it.” Either way, you do not need to attend to it when it happens.
If you attend to these statements, you will likely teach your child how powerful these words or statements are. Be very careful.
For example, if you have ignored simple attempts at getting your attention, but then your daughter gets upset and says, “you NEVER play with me” and then you go and play, guess what just happened? Yep…you have taught them a very effective and efficient way to get access to you, NOT in a way you want them to.
It is about timing. If your kid is more able to get your attention after using these words than before they said these words, you are going to be in trouble.
There is a time for everything
And the time to reassure them about your love, affection and care is not when they say these things. It can be once they calm down or once they are reasonable (as reasonable as a 5 year old can be). You can even say something like, “I am glad you are calm now, did you want to read books with me or color in the den with me?”
Of course, and most importantly, if you maintain consistent attention, affection and reinforcement to your kid, you can better be prepared to ignore these statements and move on.
Try to anticipate these things as they are likely to happen again and understand you dont want to be in the place again to have to ignore these comments. They are powerful. They hurt. Make sure you do as much as you can to not have to hear these words again.