Three Little Words

Those three little words that you long NOT to hear.

All those years of nurturing, loving, feeding, changing, teaching, giving every last part of you there is left to give, not to mention sacrificing the last of the Maltesers at every occasion to your little darling.  They then turn round and say those three little words that hit you like a crossbow straight through your heart “I HATE YOU”

Now, I don’t care if you’re the calmest person on the planet, every part of your being wants to scream back “WHAT did you just say to me ?”.  While not forgetting the glaring eyes, just incase the tone was not enough to give them no doubt what so ever that they are on very dangerous territory if they chose to answer that threat question honestly.

At that point you wish you were back to dealing with the three year old tantrums. Finding yourself fondly reminiscing back to the days when they were rolling about the supermarket floor, screaming and kicking. Those were difficult, but they didn’t hurt like this.

Something to consider is, are they really so different ?

I would argue they are not different at all. Both occasions your child is communicating something to you. They are telling you that they cant manage their overwhelming emotions. The three words, screamed so eloquently at you, should actually be translated to

  “I NEED YOU”  

The same as the screaming toddler on the floor, they needed you too and we responded to that request with love, unless we had ice-cream that was quickly defrosting in the trolley and it was most probably responded to by bribery.

Now you recognize what those words really mean, how do you help?.  Your child will undoubtedly be emotionally unregulated at this time so there is very little point trying to reason with them. The “logical, receptive” part of their brain will be shut off right now.  

At the Calm Chameleon we recognize before any cognitive work can begin we need to help our children regulate.  You need to be able to do a bit of that for yourself too.  If you don’t feel that you are able to manage to remain calm then walk away, give yourself time, responding to anger with anger never has good outcomes for either side. 

Once you feel calm, just be aware of what your body language is communicating. Pointing fingers, hands on hips, all that defensive stuff that your body will be doing, needs to go.  Try to have open, neutral body language and tone, then you are ready to connect and support them.  

Getting your child to a point where their heart rate comes down is the first step. Mindfulness and breathing techniques taught from an early age can really help children with emotional regulation. Controlling the breath and slowing down the heart rate will allow their logical brain to click back online. That’s when it will be time to do some of that cognitive stuff, this is when you will be able to reason and resonate with them.

Be prepared for the feelings of guilt afterward from your child and support them through it.  Whilst acknowledging that words can hurt, let them understand that you recognize that it wasn’t said out of hate.  It’s as much of a learning process as anything else and they do have to recognize that somethings said can have consequences and unintentional hurt. It’s important that they understand, and acknowledge that too.

Then its time for you to both say those other three little words that you all need to hear,

I love you”

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Alison Clark
Alison Clark
3 years ago

Beautifully said Donna, we need to look at behaviours as communication, what is my child trying to tell me? Instead of seeing it as an attack on us; asking ourselves why is my child trying to embarrass me, why is my child making my life so difficult, why are they trying to hurt me? It’s not about you but it’s about a parenting moment that will help them form as a human being. Kids don’t always know how to best manage emotions they experience and we need to teach them and model that to them.
Loving your posts Donna

2 years ago

I can really relate to this situation just now with my eldest, honestly, I find it very difficult not to react in anger especially when they are shouting and screaming over what I believe is a trivial matter. Walking away has certainly helped as allows both of us time to calm and then later have a normal conversation as to why they felt the issue was a bigger deal for them. It takes a lot of patients not to react and walk away but it definitely makes a diffrence.

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