Lost my temper with my toddler: Losing Your Temper with Your Toddler?
Losing Your Temper with Your Toddler?
Losing your temper with your toddler? From tantrums to bedtime battles, discover 5 tips to help you discipline in a calm and patient way.
It was starting to tug at my nerves.
Normally, I could talk myself down or even ignore my kiddos when they threw a fit, but sometimes, I ended up screaming right back at them. I’d lose my patience and yell so loudly that my throat would hurt afterward.
The triggers usually happened when they didn’t listen or made a big deal out of something that shouldn’t take so much energy. Other times, I’d lose my temper when they would yell at the top of their lungs.
Losing your temper with your toddler? Here’s what to do
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
Parenting toddlers is a continuous learning experience, so much so that your temper can still get tested. Just when you think you’ve been calm for ages, you find yourself getting upset and having your own mini meltdown.
It’s bound to happen—no one is perfect, after all. We’re still learning, and our kids continue to go through changes that will test us. Remove the stigma or the pressure to always be perfect, and instead, learn from the present moment.
What should you do after these meltdowns and power struggles?
Ask yourself: What happened that made me get angry? What can I do differently next time so I’m not snapping at them all the time? Rather than beat yourself up for your mistakes, question what happened.
I certainly learned a ton from the many times I’ve lost my temper with my toddlers, which I’ll share below. Hopefully you’ll discover how to temper these emotional reactions and keep your sanity. As these moms wrote:
“This has really been a huge help and relief to me. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. It was a huge realization that this is their normal and I should not take it personally. Admittedly I am sad to say I did. And this article has made a world of a difference in how I am reacting to my daughter’s actions. Thank you so much.” -Kristin
“I so needed this! Was having a mini meltdown of my own today and just decided to google “I keep losing it with my two year old” and thank God the first listing directed me to your page. Thank you for your insight and guidance :)” -Brandee
Take a look at some new lessons about losing your temper:
Table of Contents
1. See your toddler’s resistance a different way
No one likes to be questioned or defied—it feels like a personal attack when our directions, plans, or opinions are outright ignored or disobeyed.
Except this is what toddlers do all the time.
Your toddler might do the exact opposite of what you just said, look at you like he didn’t hear you, or throw a fit over an easy request. It’s enough to drive any parent nuts.
The thing is, not only is this normal for toddlers to do, it’s even desired.
Think about the opposite: would you really want your child to yes to everything? To not question authority, or add his opinion? To not stand up for what he believes is right, or set his own boundaries?
Nope, I wouldn’t either.
This is the time he’ll practice these “skills” the most. It’s when he learns what’s okay and what isn’t, and how to cope when these difficult emotions arise.
When he resists or defies you, remove yourself out of the equation and see it as normal behavior. Don’t take it personally, and instead chalk it up to an opportunity for him to learn how to behave.
Free resource: Exhausted and feeling guilty from losing your temper with your toddler? Even if it seems like you’ve tried just about everything, you can stop getting angry, if you start from the inside out and change from within.
In How to Finally Stop Losing Your Temper, you’ll learn how to reflect on your habits and triggers, and what you can do when you feel compelled to express anger. Grab your PDF below—at no cost to you. You’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:
“My son’s behavior has improved a lot and that’s all to us changing our parenting style thanks to all your great tips! The last few weekends have been stress free. There’s no more yelling because he’s not misbehaving, everything is so much easier. I really never considered how harsh parents’ tones can be. He’s also happier to play in his play room so I can concentrate on our 14 month old a little more.” -Samantha Headdon
2. Brace yourself during bad days
Have you noticed that when you’re in a good mood, you’re a more patient mom with your toddler? Well, the opposite can be said when you’re in a bad one.
For instance, I’d end my work day frustrated, then head straight to pick up the kids and wonder why every little thing they did made me angry.
A “bad day” doesn’t always have to be disastrous. Even little things like dealing with a broken air conditioner or a late package delivery mean your mind is elsewhere instead of on your toddler. The next time you’re having a bad day, brace yourself because you’re vulnerable and prone to losing your temper.
Instead, try these tactics:
- Spend 10-30 minutes “shutting down” before being with your toddler. If you’re at work, do something light before ending your day. If you’re at home, pick a light or relaxing task to transition yourself into being with her.
- Journal your thoughts. I like to spend a few minutes before picking up the kids to write down what I did for the day so it’s out of my mind. I’ll also write frustrations and challenges so I can let them go.
- Take a deep breath and say a mantra. If the day is already going south, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re going through a rough time right now. This little reminder can be all you need to go easy on him when she whines. That the real reason you’re upset is because the kitchen sink is clogged or that you’re upset about extra bills.
Get more tips about how to get yourself out of a bad parenting day.
3. Your toddler’s behavior isn’t “for no reason”
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission—at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase.
I can’t remember how many times I complained to my husband, “He just threw a fit for no reason!”
In the heat of the moment, it may seem like your toddler erupts out of nowhere. He might be perfectly fine, but will suddenly hit his brother on the head. Or he’d been in a good mood all day when he’ll throw a fit about getting in the car seat.
Now I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as “for no reason.” There’s always a reason—sometimes it just takes a little digging to discover what it is.
It might be that he had a rough day with other kids at preschool, something you wouldn’t know if he doesn’t say anything. He could be afraid of a television show he watched, his fears surfacing hours or even days later.
And it could be as simple as not having his basic needs met. He might be hungry for a snack, sleepy for a nap, or needs your attention.
We all have bad days, and even we can’t always pinpoint the exact reason we feel down. The same is true for our kids.
On that note, check out No Fits, Nelson! by Zachariah OHora all about helping your child calm down when things go wrong:
4. Don’t worry about what other people think
Disciplining in public is not my favorite. Whether with a family member, friend, or stranger, I never liked the idea that other people could witness my kids throwing a fit—and watch how I’ll respond.
Except here’s what I learned. First, no one really cares what you’re doing. It might seem like everyone’s watching your every move, but more likely, they don’t even notice.
Second, it doesn’t matter what they think. Take strangers, for instance. There’s no way they can judge one incident—whether positive or negative—and decide what type of parent you are.
Let me give you an example of when I let other people dictate my actions.
I was picking up the kids from school when one of them complained. I wanted to let it go, but with other parents and teachers around, I felt compelled to put on my “discipline hat” and started talking down to him.
Deep down, I wanted others to think that I had this under control, that I knew what I was doing.
Well, turns out that my first intuition was right. Disciplining him, especially in front of others, only set him off further. Had I let it go like I wanted to, we could’ve headed to the van with only mild complaints instead of a full-on fit.
5. A good track record doesn’t mean your toddler is perfect
One of my biggest temper triggers is, surprisingly, after my kids have been behaving so well.
You see, when your toddler has been doing what he’s supposed to, it’s easy to get upset when he hits a toddler sleep regression or makes mistakes.
Except, you guessed it—it’s normal to regress and make mistakes. You and I do, all the time. It’s unfair to get mad at him for the one time he spilled the plate of food on the way to the dining table when he’d been doing so well up to that point.
Ask yourself: Do you give him grief for throwing a tantrum at bedtime, forgetting that he hasn’t thrown one in months? Do you lose your patience when he has a potty accident, never mind that he’d been using the potty so well all this time?
You can see where I’m going here. He’s bound to behave in ways you’d rather he not—even when he’s been behaving so well. In fact, harping on that one misstep can send negative messages about how to respond to mistakes.
Instead, correct the behavior and move on. He should see mistakes as learning opportunities instead of feeling penalized for the few times he didn’t put the toys back in the toy box.
It’s never easy staying calm when you’re already exhausted, juggling everything else, and dealing with a toddler. Especially when she whines and cries over everything or throws a fit out of nowhere. Now you know what to do when you feel yourself short-tempered.
Brace yourself when you’re already having a bad day so it doesn’t affect how you spend time with your family. Don’t let her resistance trigger you into losing your temper. Instead, remember that this is normal and even desired in the bigger picture.
Remind yourself that her behavior is never “for no reason,” and don’t allow other people’s opinions to sway the way you discipline. And finally, go easy on her few mishaps, the kind that are bound to happen, even when all this time she’s had a great track record.
That way, when she tugs—or more like yanks—that last nerve, you’ll feel better equipped to handle it.
Get more tips:
- How to Respond to Toddler Testing
- 7 Things You Should NOT Do with a Defiant 2 Year Old
- How to Get Kids to Listen Without Yelling and Losing Your Cool
- What to Do When You’re Seeing 1 Year Old Tantrums Already
- How to Discipline a Toddler Who Doesn’t Listen
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab your copy of How to Finally Stop Losing Your Temper below—at no cost to you:
What To Do When You Lose Your Cool With Your Child: 10 Steps to Repair
What To Do When You Lose Your Cool With Your Child: 10 Steps to Repair
Even the calmest and most patient parent is going to lose their cool with their toddler or child from time to time. While more patience is always the goal, it’s a small fact of life that you’re going to slip up. You’re going to make mistakes as a parent, and at times, you’re going to lose your temper with your child.
But I think you can push the guilt aside, get your feelings out of the way, and see these moments as wonderful teaching moments. Because here’s the thing: Modeling is the best way we teach our children.
You can model for them what it looks like making mistakes and what it looks like being human. And then, of course, what it looks like repairing and recovering from those mistakes by apologizing and increasing the connection in your relationship.
I’m going to share my simple 10-step guide you can use when you lose your cool with your toddler or child.
Step #1: After losing your temper, bring yourself back to baseline
This is important.
You can’t do all the other nine steps until you’ve calmed down and are back to baseline.
So whether that’s deep breathing, taking a break, splashing water on your face, calling a friend, or texting somebody, you need to calm your nervous system down and bring yourself back to the present moment.
Step #2: Tell yourself something positive about yourself & your child
When we make mistakes in parenting, we love to beat ourselves up. You may tell yourself what a horrible parent you are, how you will never get this right, how your kid is going to grow up to hate you, and on and on.
All the negative self-talk starts to settle in. So you have to fight back.
You’re going to want to fight those negative statements by telling yourself something positive.
“I am a good parent. Bad moments don’t make me a bad parent. I’m doing the best that I can. I can recover from this. We can recover from this. My child is doing the best that they can. They will forgive me.”
Set yourself up for success by showering yourself with lots of compassion and a lot of positive self-talk, not only about your child but also about yourself.
Step #3: View the situation that triggered your anger from your child’s perspective
Often when you respond in anger, it’s because you’re responding out of autopilot and your empathy has flown out the window.
So all you can focus on is that this moment or situation is so frustrating, so irritating. But try to challenge yourself to see the situation from your child’s eyes.
What were they thinking in those moments? How were they feeling in those moments? What might have caused them to do what they did so that you can draw more compassion for them?
Step #4: Take responsibility for your actions
So often what happens is you have all this guilt, but then you rush to defend yourself. “Well, if they hadn’t tipped that over or they would’ve been nicer to their sister, I wouldn’t have lashed out at them. If they would’ve listened to me, then I wouldn’t have gotten angry.”
But it’s really important in this process to focus and acknowledge your wrongdoings and take responsibility.
Because no one can make you feel a certain way or do certain things without our permission. You are the adult in these situations, and you have to remind yourself of that.
Step #5: You HAVE TO apologize to your child
This step is SO important.
And it starts with getting down on their level and sincerely apologizing to them.
You want to identify your feelings and own up to your feelings. This is an opportunity to model that everybody feels mad from time to time.
You can say something like, “I’m so sorry for yelling at you a moment ago. I got mad. It’s always ok to have feelings, but it’s my responsibility to make good choices even when I feel really BIG feelings. I shouldn’t have yelled.”
Remember, there are no “buts” when we apologize. “I shouldn’t have yelled, but… you shouldn’t have smacked your brother.”
When you say an apology and then “but,” you’re negating what you said. You’re throwing them on the defensive. Now it’s not about an apology, it’s about blaming the other person for your actions.
So you’re just going to say, “I got upset. I’m sorry for getting upset. I shouldn’t have done that. What I should have done was this.”
Shedding light on what the better choice would have been is another subtle way to teach your child better coping skills and choices to make when they feel overwhelmed.
Examples might be:
- I should have taken a break before trying to talk to you.
- I should have said it this way.
- I should have tried to learn your perspective before rushing to conclusions.
- I should have had a snack first. I now realize I’m really hungry. I tend to get angry and lash out when I’m hungry. Mama’s HANGRY!!
Step #6: Offer some physical affection to help repair and reconnect
You can offer them some hugs, some kisses, some cuddling time to sit in that moment with them if they want it.
Always read your child’s cues. If they’re not ready for that, that’s okay. But you want to offer it to them.
Step #7: Let your child share how they felt and what they experienced when you yelled at them
One of the biggest parts of this repairing process is to honor and provide space for your child to open up to you about how the experience was for them.
But, of course, only if they are ready and open to it.
You can ask them, “How did you feel when I yelled at you? What was going through your mind? What was this experience like? I want to hear what you have to tell me. Our relationship is so important that I want to hear what you have to say.”
This can be hard to hear. But a huge part of the healing and repairing process is doing your best to make your child feel heard, seen, and validated.
This step might not apply to everyone. If your child is on the younger side, they might not know how to verbalize their feelings. So you might skip this step, but again, you want to come from a place of listening and connection.
Step #8: Work to prevent yourself from losing your cool again
What can you do in those moments a little differently to prevent yourself from losing your cool? Reflect on this and come up with a plan.
Once you have a plan, share that with your child. This is a GREAT modeling opportunity to tell them what you will do when you get mad: “When I get mad, I’m going to take a break. I’m going to go sit down somewhere. I’m going to get a glass of water. I’m going to splash water on my face. I’m going to go to the bathroom. I’m going to take some deep breaths.”
Because again, that’s great modeling for them, since those are things they can try when they get upset or mad.
Step #9: Practice forgiveness and compassion for yourself
You cannot make a change within yourself if you’re beating yourself up all the time.
Guilt does not produce change. Self-compassion does.
And that’s for any relationship: your relationship with yourself, your relationship with your partner, your relationship with your friends and family, and your relationship with your child.
People cannot do better unless you meet them with lots of compassion. Do the same for your own mistakes. Offer yourself so much compassion during these moments when everything in you wants to tell you, “I’m a bad parent. I’m a screw-up. I’m never going to get this right.”
It’s so important to challenge those beliefs and have faith in yourself and have hope that change is possible.
Step #10: Focus on progress, not perfection
You’re not going to always get this right. Even the calmest, most patient parent in the world is going to lose it from time to time.
It’s a part of the human process. We can’t always control our emotions. So focus on the progress you’ve made and not on getting it right all the time.
And the same goes for your child. They will not be able to regulate their feelings all the time, so offer them compassion as you focus on the progress they’ve made.
And so when you can have compassion for yourself, you’re more likely going to have compassion for them as well.
Note what triggers you to lose your cool or temper with your child, and get proactive about changing it.
When you’re calm in a calm state, maybe journal about it or talk to your spouse or a friend about what are your triggers and what can you do differently in those moments.
If your trigger is tantrums, what can you do in those moments to regulate yourself and make sure you’re not getting sucked into their feelings and their emotions? Is it you need to take more breaks? Is it you need to challenge your perspectives during these moments? Is it you need to ask for more support, or do you need better self-care practices?
Take inventory of what’s working for you right now and what’s not working for you.
And get proactive by coming up with a plan on how you’re going to handle your triggers because they will happen again.
Rooting for you,
P.S. Ever wonder what type of parent you are? Like do you tend to be more permissive, authoritarian, or do you strike a balance between love & limits ( authoritative)?
Take my Parenting Style Quiz and find out! All you need is 2 minutes and an email address.
Once you complete the quiz, I’ll send you a personalized report and video with your results. You’ll receive several resources that will help you grow to create more cooperation and connection.
Take Me To The Quiz!
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Do not suppress, but control: how to curb parental anger
- Forbes Woman
Photo by Getty Images Even the best parents can feel anger towards their child. Hiding and suppressing our emotions, we teach the child the same. Anastasia Agarkova, a psychologist at SOS Children’s Villages, explains why this is wrong and shares tips on how to learn to control your anger so as not to harm your child
According to the study of 2019, which was conducted by the National Institute for Child Welfare, about 45% of Russians tend to justify and / or use physical punishment of children, 68% consider it acceptable to use “soft” forms of physical punishment (slap and slap are not considered as “abuse” of the child), about a third oppose the prohibition of physical punishment, 25% of parents resorted to punishment with a belt in their practice.
“But any action always has witnesses — these are things that surround children at home,” says the description of the Talking Objects campaign, which is launched on June 1, on International Children’s Day, by the SOS Children’s Villages charity organization. “We taught objects to speak because children are silent about it,” is the slogan of the campaign. Stories on behalf of objects that have witnessed child abuse are told by Konstantin Khabensky, Nonna Grishaeva, Nikita Kukushkin and others.
The project page contains useful information for parents and expert comments, including on the topic of controlling parental anger. The author of the idea and director: Maxim Kolyshev, the finalist of the “Can Lions” and the creative director of an advertising agency of socially oriented marketing.
The causes of anger in parents are understandable. With the advent of a child, the familiar world of an adult changes, his comfort zone shifts, a new social status and new roles appear: father and mother. Now the whole life of parents is concentrated on the child. And as the children grow older, the tension of adults who live in a monotonous world of the same actions increases.
The birth of anger begins with irritation and dissatisfaction – feelings of lighter and not always noticed emotions in everyday fuss. When a parent is angry with a child, he begins to struggle with guilt. “I’m a bad mother,” “I can’t cope,” “I shouldn’t react like this,” “there’s something wrong with me,” all these thoughts cause even more pain and lead to an increase in emotional load. This is superimposed on the usual fatigue, depression, lack of support and help, there is a risk of going into a state of uncontrollable rage. What to do?
The first step is to separate adequate aggression from displaced aggression. Ask yourself: why did you experience such strong feelings of anger? Are there any other problems that are not directly related to the child’s behavior? Perhaps you do not have enough attention or support from your partner – and part of this tension is redirected to the child?
It is important to remember that the child’s actions are not intended to piss off the parent. A small person is always frightened and traumatized by the rage on the part of an adult. And he definitely does not count on such a reaction, trying to get your attention.
You need to allow yourself adequate anger and irritation. This is an absolutely normal and natural process for every person. By forbidding ourselves to be angry, we suppress an important part of ourselves and may not notice how the cup of patience overflows and an emotional explosion occurs.
In a moment of anger
A good way to allow yourself to feel angry is to:
- Do not hold back the feeling that has arisen and do not hide it from yourself in the first place.
- Take a break and cut contact with your child. It is very important to tell him honestly that you need to calm down and get back to normal. This is the act of a truly mature person, responsible for his experiences. In addition, you will set a great example for your child: feelings are different, they arise, and they can be recognized and accepted.
- Change your surroundings: take some time to focus on yourself and your bodily sensations. Breathe without holding your breath and put your hand on your stomach to help him relax.
- If possible, breathe fresh air or wash your face with cool water. A few squats or jumps will also help you feel in your body again and disperse energy through it.
- With strong emotions such as rage, it is natural to want to express them physically. They will help to discharge and throw out aggression by hitting the pillow with fists or sharp actions with paper (for example, tearing a newspaper to shreds).
- Those experiences that remain after active exercises can be written on a piece of paper. Formulate their cat: “I’m angry because …”, “I’m angry that …”.
- When you feel that you have regained control over yourself, be sure to discuss what happened with your child. Tell him what made you angry or offended, how exactly you got these feelings. And be sure to tell him that you did not want to scare him or hurt him.
“Most of all I am afraid that children will not forget how to cry with happiness”: Irina Antonova’s rules of life
Art therapy prophylaxis
The art therapy method helps a lot, which will secure the situation. With its help, you can completely immerse yourself in your experiences and thereby prevent future outbursts of anger at the child. Do it while in solitude and tranquility. You will need a sheet of paper (A4 or A5) and jars of gouache in different colors.
Think about your anger, imagine it. What color and shape is it? What comes to your mind when you think about anger? What is she?
Now feel free to dip your fingers in paint and draw your anger. It is very important to draw with your fingers, you can even use your whole palm. This is how the drawing will become a continuation of you, conveying all your emotions as much as possible. When you finish the picture, look at it and try to track the feelings that arose during this acquaintance with your own anger.
Now you can do what you want with your anger (sheet with a picture). Listen to your body and it will tell you the answer. Do whatever you want: tear, trample or drown in water.
Thus, by taking time for yourself and allowing yourself to be angry safely for others, you will feel a pleasant relief, as well as gain experience in living and managing feelings of anger.
Operators of kindness: who manages the largest private charitable foundations in Russia
A parent is also a person: hurtful words of a child and how to react to them
Psychologist of the Architecture of the Future center Alexandra Chernysheva tells parents where the hurtful words of a child come from and how to respond to them.
— People often say nasty things during a fight, which they later deny. Are we really not saying what we think, or in this state, exactly what we have kept in ourselves for so long emerges?
– Both options are available. Very often, in the heat of a quarrel, those words are uttered that the person did not originally intend to utter. Of course, a person thinks about these words and keeps them in his head. However, this does not mean at all that he would have expressed this out of a conflict situation. In adolescence, quarrels are often accompanied by a surge of emotions. When dissatisfaction with each other accumulates, in a fit of quarrel, on emotions, everyone can express what worries him and annoys him in a rude manner.
Age-related crises in a child: how not to go crazy for a parent?
— What to do if the child uttered an offensive painful phrase, after which it seems that it will not be possible to return to the past relationship?
-First, remember the so-called “I-statements”. The essence of the method is that we say about ourselves and our emotions: not “You offended me”, “You upset me”, “You made me angry”, but “I was offended”, “I was upset” and “I got angry”. Thus, start by acknowledging the existence of your emotions.
Every person knows the painful points of relatives and friends and can unconsciously put pressure on them in quarrels. The child, uttering a phrase offensive to you, does just that.
Secondly, it must be remembered that in the relationship between a parent and a child, the main role is assigned to the parent. If it seems to you that after the hurtful words uttered by the child, you cannot return to the previous relationship, then you treat the child as an equal, which is wrong. The main one is the parent, and his task is to explain to the child what the consequences are due to unpleasant words and expressions. In the event that we are offended and deeply immersed in resentment, we find ourselves outside the parent-child relationship, which is harmful to both parties.
– Let’s look at the most common phrases. What does it mean if a child says, “You don’t love me”?
-Most often this is a request for attention. The most correct reaction of the parent will not be to answer: “No, I love you,” but to try to understand what the child is missing. It is necessary to ask the child why it seems to him that he is not loved; how he generally understands that he is loved by loved ones, that is, in what actions love is manifested for him.
By the way, it is useful for parents themselves to analyze this: how do you understand that you are loved. Another quite common option is an attempt at manipulation: “I want that toy, that gadget,” etc. If you understand that now is just such a case, it makes sense to talk with your child about the relationship between love and financial transactions. If the parent before that easily went to purchases and expenses at the first request of the child, then in the understanding of the latter, certain obligations are imposed on the parent in similar situations. This is a kind of beacon that it will not be superfluous to talk with the child about financial relations in the family.
– If a child says “You don’t understand me”?
– This is the most common phrase during adolescence, when it seems to the child that his emotions are unique, and there has never been such a thing as with him, and with no one. It’s great if a parent can remember himself as a teenager, what he wanted from his parents. It may not be superfluous to share these memories with the child in a calm environment.
— How can one interpret the words “I wish I were dead” or “If I die, you will understand everything”?
— Usually behind such words there is a strong emotional reaction on the part of the child. At the same time, it is usually difficult for children to articulate strong emotions: babies stomp their feet and shout: “I don’t love you, you’re bad.” Older children may say: “I’ll die, then you’ll see.”
It is important to put yourself in the place of the child, to try to understand what he is experiencing at this moment. It is important to ask him questions: “Are you hurt, sad now?”, “You are angry now, right?”. Help to understand the emotion itself and choose the right name for it. If we discuss everything together with the child, most likely it will turn out that he is not going to die.
In extreme cases, if the child often says this, then it can go into manipulation, just like with any other phrase. It is important to keep in mind here that children often express what adults are afraid of. This happens both with words and with behavior. When a child climbs a window in the middle of an argument, he realizes that the parent is afraid of this. If you react to this with fear and panic, then, on the one hand, you reinforce such behavior in the child, on the other hand, do not go to the level of interaction and clarifying his emotions.
— If a parent hears: “You are a bad mother”, “You are a bad father”?
— The idea that we are bad parents has been in our minds since the birth of a child. In addition, the parent is actively reminded of this by relatives, acquaintances, doctors, educators and other people who surround him. This is the simplest thing that can piss off a parent and make them feel guilty. Further, the parent either begins to worry and try to do better for his child, or begins to become more angry, so that the quarrel escalates even more.
This phrase is an attempt to bring out an emotion and get rid of one’s emotional experiences. “I feel bad, I’m sad, you’re a bad mother!” – and here we threw off the emotional stress. The child, subtly feeling, clings to our emotions. Sometimes it’s just resentment and manipulation, and sometimes it’s an attempt to reach out and show that there is something specific that he does not like. In the latter case, this is calculated by a simple question: “What do you not like?”. After it, you can move to a constructive level of problem solving. The main thing is to cope with emotions and do not go over to mutual accusations with the child.
– What is behind the phrase “I hate you”?
– In this situation, I would listen to what the parent feels at this moment. In our society, manifestations of strong negative emotions are taboo. If we remember the family as a concept, then in it, traditionally, a child should not be indignant, cry loudly in public, get angry, but should correspond to the image of a good child. Therefore, he says “I hate you” when a lot of emotions and discontent have accumulated, so strong that an explosion occurs.
– If we hear from a child “I’m leaving home”?
– Again, we divide into 2 layers. The first layer is manipulation. If the parent reacted correctly (demonstrated calmness and firmness of position), then this will not happen next time. If we are afraid of this, then the child will follow this path in every new dispute. On the other hand, if everything is really good in the relationship, there is mutual understanding in the family, usually such a problem does not arise. Thus, it can be, albeit manipulative, but still a signal that the child is worried about something.
– How to respond to “You ruined my life”?
– This phrase works both ways: it can be heard from teenagers to parents, and vice versa. The first thing a parent should do is to remember if he himself said such words to the child. If not, we return to the pronunciation of our own emotions and back to “I-statements”.
If you know that the child was told this, it is important to realize and understand that the problem may be deeper. A child, accustomed to the fact that a parent blames him for his own failures in life, considers such phrases to be the norm. Accordingly, the first step to correct the situation will be the parent’s refusal of such an argument in quarrels and the recognition of his wrong. It is important to remember that a child who considers himself guilty of the misfortune of his parents bears this burden all the time, which is reflected in his self-esteem and behavior.
– How to understand the phrase “Get off me”?
– The child says this if his personal boundaries are violated. For example, there is too much parental attention, and it is overprotective or it is not what the child needs, and the child is treated like a child. “Get away from me” may well be a signal that the parent is too much in the life of the child, and not in the format of a senior partner, but in the format of a controlling policeman. “What are the grades, what’s at school, why didn’t you clean the room, why is it a mess?” – in the framework of such issues, contact with the child is formal, rather than friendly, partner-like.
— What to do if the child says “You don’t understand anything”? “I’m an adult, I’m smart, and you’re old”?
– It is worth thinking about why the child feels that your experience cannot give him anything. Maybe it’s time to move on to more partnerships with less preaching.
— What should a parent do so that in the future the child does not clothe negative emotions in the form of offensive words?
— It is important to speak to your child about your own emotions that you have in response to his words. If we do not do this, then at some point our own emotions can get out of control, leading to an emotional storm, a strong and unnecessary scandal. And it is useful for the child himself to understand that the child-parent relationship is still hierarchical, so in the heat of the strongest quarrel it makes sense to “choose expressions”. And this is most easily achieved through a calm explanation of their emotions by parents.
How can a parent take care of themselves?
— What general advice can you give to parents who encounter such statements?
– These phrases are a marker that the child has a lot of strong emotions that he kept in himself for a long time, as a result of which it became difficult to explain them with normal harmless words. After analyzing specific situations, talk with your child about the fact that it is normal to be angry, but you need to be aware of your emotions and their background. This option is suitable for pre-teens.
If we talk about adolescence, the scale of emotions increases several times. After all, the emotional storm that accompanies the process of puberty enhances all reactions. It is important not to forget that the child is changing, growing, it is important for him to receive from the parent not only protection and control, but attention and, at least, an advisory vote. If you want to maintain a close relationship with your child, then remember that even the smallest child is a separate person with his own feelings, desires and needs. In this case, communication will be much more successful.
Alexandra Chernysheva – consultant psychologist, graduated from the Department of Crisis and Extreme Situations, Faculty of Psychology, St. Petersburg State University.
Since 2007 Alexandra has been conducting individual and group consultations and trainings with children and teenagers, and also coordinates the work of the Architecture of the Future camp.