How to handle some hurtful things my daughter says

Trinda - posted on 07/14/2010 ( 21 moms have responded )

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Normally my little girl is very sweet and affectionate. She can be the most pleasant kid to be around, but lately she's been having a really hard time about not getting her way. It's small stuff, like not letting her watch TV until she practices some of her writing or phonics, or not getting another cookie, or going to the free pool instead of the expensive pool with the slides. When she dosen't get her way, she says the most hurtful things. She'll call me a bad mommy, and say that I'm no longer her family, and that her dad and his wife are. I don't know how to respond. I don't want to spoil her just to keep from getting my feelings hurt, but it hurts to think that she may really want to live with him instead of me. Sometimes I want to tell her that he left me AND her, and he doesn't want the responsibility of a family, but I know that would not do any good, and probably hurt her a lot. So I just keep quiet, and go in the other room and cry for a while. After a while, she always comes back and says she's sorry. Has anyone else dealt with this type of thing?

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Laura - posted on 08/04/2010

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Just adding my two cents: Do not take what a child says personally! Your feelings get hurt becuase you believe that what your daughter says is true and that she means it! Kids that age are exploring their limits and boundaries, testing parents to learn the extent to which they can behave as they like or want. They are also learning the power of language and are discovering that some words can get attention. Even if it's negative attention. My daughter tried getting my goat like that when she was 4 -5 and gave up pretty quickly because I didn't let her words bother me. "I hate you!" was only used a couple of times because it didn't bother me and she got very little reaction from me. I knew she was upset and simply trying to express her feelings on the situation. It was nothing personal. I would respond with "I still love you though" and she would usually quiet down. Once she was calmed we could talk about the problem, her emotions, and find better ways to express herself.

Many others are right when they mention that kids are also learning to express their feelings at this age. This is where calm guidence on your part can help your daughter learn appropriate ways to express her feelings. Acknowledge her emotions (I can see you are: upset, angry, frustrated, etc.) and then let her know ways she can express those feelings other than name-calling, vulgar language or anything physical like hitting or kicking. While you can't control what happens at her dad's house, you CAN set the limits at your house and you can be consistant with those limits! And you are by no means the world's worst mother for having to deal with this! You are establishing yourself as a very good mother by having firm, constistant expectations of behavior and for taking the time to teach your daughter how to meet those expectations! Good luck and keep it up!

Raziya - posted on 07/26/2010

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My son is 5 and I've had this problem. First I try to see beyond his words. What's the matter, why does he feel this way. If I am denying him something he really wants I try to validate him. There is this formula I am learning to use from this book: Raising our Children, Raising ourselves. By Naomi Aldort.

it's communication with S.A.L.V.E. and basically it is changing from negating to validating and empowering your children. and the S.A.L.V.E formula can be a tool to help you min making the shift toward affirming your child's experiences so he can let emotions be and act authentically and powerfully.

First the S- Separate yourself from your child's behavior and emotions with Silent Self-talk. Basically this means instead of reacting by the first thing that comes to your mind like telling her "no that's not nice" or "you shouldn't talk to mommy that way." or things even more upsetting to you and the child like hitting or putting them down. You stop and just notice these words and actions in your head. These automatic responses probably come from how your were raised. If you are upset it's the wrong thing to say or do and will only aggravate the situation. It's not what you want to say. it doesn't represent your true intention and therefore is inauthentic. The proof of this inauthenticity (is that a word?) is later you regret it, it builds walls between you and your child. So, let those emotions and abusive words happen in your head (you are allowed to feel them). or write them down. Later you will go over them or eventually you can do this all in the minute before responding to your child. You ask yourself how you treat your child when you obey these thoughts and why you would be if the thought didn't cross your mind. For without the thought you can be free to respond to your child rather than to your own mind talk. Without your limiting thought, your real, unconditional loving self may emerge. Check and see if what your mind says about your child isn't just true about yourself. like, "I shouldn't behave like this." or "she will never learn" or "she should learn to take responsibility." these can be the greatest guide for your own ability to be responsible for your mind's reactions as well as other components of your life.

This is the hardest step. once you get used to this it happens pretty easily and quick. Then you can move on to the A.

A- Attention on your child. when you have silently investigated the conversation inside your head (which has nothing to do with your child), shift your attention from yourself and your inner monologue to your child.

L-Listen to what your child is saying or to what his actions may be indicating. then listen some more. make eye contact and ask questions that gives him an opportunity to speak some more and if your child is non verbal let him know you understand.

V-Validate you child's feelings and the needs he expresses without dramatizing or adding your own perception. Listening and Validating are the ingredients of LOVE. When you succeed, you create a connection with your child and you feel present and authentic with yourself.

E- Empower your child to resolve hisown upset by getting out of his way and trusting him. Trust him by not getting all wound up and trying to fix everything. Children come up with their own requests, solutions, and ideas when feeling able, trusted, and free of the ability to act powerfully.

This is just the tip of the ice berg. I guess what I was getting at but felt I had to tell you the whole process is Validate what she is feeling. state facts and describe what you see. Let the child tell you how she feels. You are listening to her and letting her feel her emotions. Ultimately she is learning to do what you do in the S of process. I've experienced this first hand with my son. He'd go on and on about wanting something then I'd just get on his level and tell him what I see and validate what he really wants. he may get even more upset, but if I just stay and listen to him he eventually work through his upset and usually almost abruptly decide to do something else or says maybe we can do that afterwards or another day.

Personally I was trying too hard and having axiety about what to do. This process gives me confidence. I know I want to love Marley unconditionally and guide him. In this book it states so elequently that, "Parenting is a Path of Maturation and Growth if we Dare to Learn More and Teach Less."

I practice Attachment Parenting. This may or may not resonate with you. But it can't hurt. This is all BEFORE she starts telling you all those mean things. Most of this is quoted from the book: Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves By Naomi Aldort, Ph.D.

Raziya - posted on 07/28/2010

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Children aren't inherently bad. They are trying to piss you off just because they can. they are trying to get you to notice them and pay attention to them because they NEED something from you. Maybe they feel you don't give them attention unless they are bad. They need love and lots of it. If you think they are doing things just to get your attention, then give them attention. they need it. They need all the love until they are comfortable and confident within themselves to sooth themselves. Ignoring may work at the moment but it's teaching children that they aren't important enough and don't deserve love and in the long run, when they are adults, they will feel they are unlovable.

I am living from experience here and I am having the hardest time with feeling okay to be me. Love never runs out. There is an endless supply. When a child bad mouth's you, stay and listen. don't take it personally. Stay close, hold her if she let's you. If she doesn't just stay close because she has a lot of hurt feelings she needs to get out and it's okay to let her work through all those hurt feelings. Better to work through them than to bottle them up and become a time bomb.

Maura - posted on 07/26/2010

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Do you discipline her at all? I would give her a time out EVERY single time she speaks mean things. Period.

Amanda - posted on 04/09/2012

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Wow! I really feel much better after reading all your posts. My 5 year old son told me he didn't want me to be his mommy anymore after I told him he had to eat at the table. I was crushed that he would say something so hurtful to me. I wish I would have read all these posts before tonight. I wish I would've just stayed calm. I really let it hurt me. I then couldn't fall asleep because I was wondering what I did that would cause him to say that to me. Thank goodness for second chances. I now feel much more equipped to handle a situation if he should say something hurtful in the future. Thanks everyone!

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Melani - posted on 08/26/2012

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I was just looking for advice about this very thing. My son turned 4 last week and he has been saying that he does not want to live with us anymore. I was so hurt today and feel a failure at the moment. My son is also a lovely boy, but these hurtful things really get me down. It's relatively new, but I don't know how to handle it.

Pam - posted on 08/23/2012

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I am having the same problem with my 24 yr old daughter who lives with us....she even looks at me with contempt in her eyes and it hurts me to tears everyday

Raziya - posted on 08/02/2010

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oops I guess I should read what I type. They AREN'T trying to piss you off just because they can.

Ryn - posted on 07/29/2010

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I thought I was all alone in this situation! Which was the most awful feeling! I am so happy reading & relating to all of the responses and realizing that I'm not world's worst mother! Thanks all!

Esme - posted on 07/28/2010

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Hmm ... makes you ask where she heard the 'bad mommy' thing in the first place? Might not be a bad idea to talk to your ex husband about conversations your daughter has had while in his care.
And don't be fooled, when she sees you crying she feels powerful and will do it again because she can. Her coming to say she's sorry also makes her powerful when she sees your response. Next time she hurts your feelings tell her that, say "You've hurt me and I don't appreciate it. You need to apologize." If she acts like she doesn't understand , tell her why it was hurtful and then give her a time out. She'll think twice and then stop all together when she knows she is being held accountable for her words and actions.

Stifler's - posted on 07/27/2010

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She's saying hurtful things to get her way, she's a kid you can't believe what they say is true. "I love you too" is what my parents used to say to me.

Zenobia - posted on 07/27/2010

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Sometimes our sweet little angels can turn out to be real devils when they don't get their way!! And yes it never gets better and believe me she knows what your pressure points are and gets sadistic pleasure in pressing the buttons. The stresses and strains of being a single parent and the attached guilt does not make it any better. But setting the rules makes you a good mommy so stick by them. Everytime she gets out of line just walk away. Don't let her get to you. She is only testing the waters. I have faced it with my now 13 year old overly expressive brat!! The cold treatment is the only "dunking" that sets out the fire. With time she will settle into your rules and despite not liking them will tow the line. And a little bit of TLC later always works. Take care and don't let the barbs hurt you. You are too precious to her and she to you, remember that.

Marie - posted on 07/25/2010

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First off, it sounds like you are letting what a child says be taken personally. Children say things they mean in the minute...but often do not have the capacity to realize that what they are saying is hurtful. You are the adult...you need to realize that what she wants as a child is not always what is best for her and that you are thinking of her best interests. It sounds like you are also being hard on yourself...maybe you need a support group to deal with your own feelings of abandonment and hurt you are dealing with as well. I hope that you and your daughter can heal from this hurtful experience and wish you the best in the future.

Michelle - posted on 07/23/2010

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"I'm the mommy, you're the child" had to be repeated ad naseum to my daughter when she was in 1st grade. She was testing limits and had to be sure that the limits were firm. When they were firm each time tested, she dropped it. Sure there are occassional battles, but that is part and parcel of being two separate people, there are disagreements.
The basic, be consistent. There was trouble at school because the teacher's rules were not consistent; that's a gold mine for a child who pushes limits.
You could also start including her reasoning skills on some things; lay out the cost of the expensive slides against something else she loves to do that costs money (that you'd be willing to let go of); and ask if she willing to give up that for the pool? And if she is, and then complains, you remind her of it.
Don't know how far away your ex lives but for my daughter the thought of a new school and not being able to be an acolyte at church nixed the "dad is better" hints. Haven't heard that one in over a year partially, I'm sure, because she decided the cons outweighed the pros. And unless your ex seems to be making talk about having her live with him, it is probably a non-issue.

Mary - posted on 07/22/2010

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Ho boy! I've been dealing w/ this from my 7, soon to be 8, yr old daughter for quite a while now! It is hurtful when your child says things like that - I can't say that I respond to it the same every time - it depends on my mood which is not a good thing! But I agree with Athena - this is our doing for coddling her too much when she was in her "formative" years so if you don't want to be dealing with this when she's older figure out how to stop her now. And she is definitely playing the mom vs. dad card - she's probably doing it with her dad & stepmom too. They are kind of 2 seperate issues I think.

Athena - posted on 07/21/2010

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I will say this if you don't stop it now, you have a VERY VERY tough road ahead of you. You have to show her your the parent shes the child. If its something you don't want her to do, avert her attention somewhere else. Turn the tv off & start making her writing & phonics sound fun.
It also sounds to me like she gets to do whatever she wants at her dads. So she wants to see how far her boundaries are at your house. My daughter does the same thing. Don't get hurt by what she says.... they say "I hate you!' but they don't really they are just mad that you won't let them have their way. And the more you respond with hurt feelings & stuff she knows shes getting to you & will continue pushing that button. Hang in there. Good luck. Show her where the boundaries are. Find a time out spot for her to cry till shes done with her fit.

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My five year old son discovered the power of words, too, when he was about four (he just turned five). His favorite thing to say was, "I don't want you for a mommy. I'm going to find a new mommy who will let me eat gummies for dinner! (or whatever it was he wanted to do) Now, his threats are almost funny, but at first I was truly hurt to hear him say he did not want me for a mom. I agree with Rebekah: your daughter is frustrated, and saying what she says is a way to express her emotions. I bet she'll eventually filter out these hurtful words.

Here is what has improved the situation some at our house. When my son says something hurtful to me, such as "I want a new mommy who..." I don't respond to that comment. For example, if he is angry about me saying no to a request for a cookie before dinner, I just offer a quick, calm explanation-- we don't fill our bellies with treats-- and let him rail if he needs to, but I don't react to it. Later, when he is calm, I'll ask,"you know when you said you wanted a new mommy, what would that be like? Do you think she would know you need blankie when you get hurt? I hope she'd know that you don't like pasta" and so on. It's a bit of guilt trip, I know, but I eventually build up to saying how much I love him and how sad I would be if I couldn't be his mommy. He usually admits he doesn't want a new mom (after all the mistakes I convince him this new mom would make!!) Then I remind him we don't say things we don't really mean, even if we are really mad. My son still occasionally says something hurtful, but not as often. Now, I can even ask, "do you really mean what you're saying?" and he'll quiet down.

It sounds as though you are doing a great job... I hope this phase passes soon!

Kori - posted on 07/21/2010

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My son is 8 and STILL tries to bull that BS from time to time. I have to say that as hard as it may be sometimes I have to ignore him when he gets like that. He HATES when I give him the silent treatment. It has gotten easier because he is older now (he is 8) so I ask him how he would like it if I was saying those things to him. I will be the first to admit that my son was BEYOND spoiled and I have myself to blame for that one. I was constanly trying to make up for that fact that his dad was an A-hole who constantly disappointed and lied to him. I have worked really hard to undo the damage that I did when I would give in to every demand. Sometimes I start laughing at him (I can't help it when he is being really ridiculous) and he gets sooo angry with me and storms off. I am constantly telling him that it's not his world that we are all living in and that he is not always going to get what he wants! Life happens and our kids need to deal with it whether they want to or not.

Liz - posted on 07/16/2010

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Be prepared--it dosen't get any better! My daughter is 25 and she still knows how to press my buttons! The main thing is to stand your ground. The whole 'bad Mommy ' thing is just another way of her testing your limits. She knows that Mommy loves her, but like all kids, she can't see beyond the moment--she is playing you off against her dad and step-mother. Your daughter will have more security when she sees that Mommy's rules don't change. Next time she plays the "Daddy" card you may want to remind her that while 'daddy's ' rules apply in his house, your rules apply in yours.

Rebekah - posted on 07/15/2010

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We have just started with this recently too. My son is four and seems to have discovered the power of his words. He picked up a few undesirable phrases from his cousins and realizes he gets a reaction when he uses them around me (calling someone "stupid head" of all things). I redirect him so that he knows when his words are inappropriate or hurtful. If he continues, I start to count and he'll quit. (when I get to 3, I take something) Though it will surface again later because its still a novel thing for him and he seems to get a kick out of it. I've read that at times it may be better to ignore some stuff they say b/c they get a charge out of your reaction, and it just prolongs it. They feel the power that they have with words. Still thinking on how to work that in, but some things I just can't let pass...
Just tonight, he was angry with me (as I prevented him from getting his way) and he talked about "making someone dead." Of course I was appalled and leapt on that one. When he repeated it after I told him not to, I plunked him in time out. His mouth kept going with negative stuff (the return of "stupid head"), so I added another minute, twice. When that didn't seem to get him to stop, I started counting, and then he quit. Apparently that's what works for now! After his time out, and we were both cooled off, I talked with him about what is ok to talk about and not when it comes to things being dead--as I'm sure at four he doesn't even begin to grasp the magnitude of what he's saying. I also tried to explain to him that even though he is angry with me, it is not ok for him to say hurtful things or call names. My goal is to help him direct his anger in a better way. I tell him when he's mad he needs to calm down, and then talk about the problem. When he was younger, we had to squelch the hitting phase. Now we seem to be in the hurtful words phase! Otherwise, like your daughter, my son is a loving, sweet little guy. But anger is a tough thing...they still have intense emotions and are trying to sort it out. Mine said the same kinds of things too, like, "I don't like you anymore!" in the midst of not getting his way or being punished. It really hurt me at first...even though intellectually I knew better, it still got to me. After hearing it a few times, I got my thick skin and can better believe he only says it b/c he's mad...he probably doesn't like me at that moment when he's being punished! But it passes and I know he loves me and our relationship is solid.

You ARE being a good mommy when you set reasonable expectations and limits with her. If kids had their way, they'd indulge themselves into the ground. It is our job to raise up responsible people that understand life isn't about getting what you think you want all the time. You are right...spoiling her will not solve the problem...if you do that, she will never learn to tolerate frustration. Life is full of disappointments and for her to be healthy she needs to learn how to manage her feelings.

I know it hurts to hear your child say those things (especially b/c all we are trying to do is raise them right and all the sacrifices, etc...), but try to keep perspective that she is speaking out of anger and may just need some help understanding the limits of how she can express her frustration. There may be times when she does imagine what life might be like with dad and think it would be better (grass is always greener)...that is really normal for kids with two sets of parents. I don't know how old she is, but trust your gut...it would be more hurtful for you to point out dad's faults in this moment. Its not so much about comparing mom and dad b/c her view of life at dad's house is probably more fantasy than real, right? its about her needing to learn how to handle frustration and express anger appropriately. Maybe when she's calm you could come to an agreement together about what to do when angry....go to a quiet spot, hug a pillow, whatever until the intensity passes and things are calm enough to talk. Looks like I need to work on an arrangement like that myself here too!
Take care of yourself....

Melissa - posted on 07/15/2010

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My daughter does this all the time. It hurts every time but i don't let her see that. I just keep telling her she isn't using nice words and she stops.

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