You’re not my friend

My kids can say some pretty hurtful things – like the title of this post. (Although my response to “you’re not my friend” is usually “you’re right, we’re not friends.”) I’m very sensitive and I can take these insults quite personally. BCLC therapist RB gave us an article about this during our last session. The article, “‘I Hate You, Mom! I Wish You Were Dead!’ When Kids Say Hurtful Things” had some really practical advice. In the intro, the author writes, “It’s very important to understand that these hurtful words your child is using are not about you at all.” That was significant for me, because I tend to take things very personally.

The author goes on to explain why kids say these things. She writes, “kids often spout off hurtful words like these when they have a problem they don’t know how to solve, whether they’re angry, stressed, or dealing with feelings about something that happened at school that day.” Even though I know otherwise, when the kids are yelling at me, I sometimes feel that they are intentionally being cruel. This section reminded me that their behavior is often the result of stress.

The author goes on to describe what not do when your kids are insulting you. Here’s an abridged version:

1. Don’t say hurtful things back
2. Don’t scream or yell
3. Don’t say “you can’t …”
4. Don’t try to reason with your child in the heat of the moment
5. Don’t punish or give big consequences

Finally, here the author’s “do’s”:

1. Stay calm
2. Be aware of your nonverbal communication
3. Keep your verbal response direct and brief
4. If you’re struggling to stay cool, walk away

Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this behavior? If so, please share!

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2 thoughts on “You’re not my friend

  1. I may be repeating myself here, if so, sorry!

    What I did was tell my son he was no longer allowed to say the hurtful thing he said to me because although I knew he didn’t mean it, it still hurt my heart. I told him he could feel free to tell me he was really mad at me or the world because really, that’s what it’s about.

    You say you sometimes feel your kids are being intentionally cruel. It’s my feeling that when kids say things like “I hate you” when they really don’t, they are trying to be cruel, are lashing out against whatever is making them angry. I think it’s our job as parents to help them understand the power of words, that once something is said it’s out there forever. That it’s ok to express our frustration or anger but it’s important they do it in a way that isn’t hurtful to those they love and love them. To treat others the way they themselves would like to be treated.

    Give your kids something to say that’s satisfying but still acceptable when they’re angry. Talk about it when things are calm and remind them of their new words if necessary when things get heated. Be openly appreciative of the effort and let them know that it means a great deal to you when they refrain from saying cruel things.

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