You understand intellectually that your child is obviously deeply distressed and in emotional turmoil to behave like they do, but it still feels like a punch in the gut when they shout ‘I hate you’ in your face.
Some days you crumple inside and retreat but other days you rise up and rage back.
Can you think of two people who are getting a lot of media coverage for hurling insults at each other and verbally declaring war at the moment?
I am thinking of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un screaming I HATE YOU in each other’s faces on a daily basis.
And have you noticed that there don’t seem to be any adults around to stop this escalation of violence and rhetoric?
Here’s the thing: Your child has just declared war by shouting and aggressively blaming you for whatever is making them unhappy. When you shoot back ‘with fire and fury’, you instantly transform both of you to 5 year olds (with bad haircuts).
INSTEAD USE THIS 3 STEP PROCESS
It will take practise so be patient with yourself. You won’t get it right every time but the world is so beautifully designed that you’ll be given all the time and opportunity you need.
Your child will make sure of that, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first, second or tenth time.
You’ll know when you have mastered it because your child will stop giving you opportunities to practise. Simples.
Notice how, where and what you feel when they are screaming at you and blaming you.
- Turn your attention inwards and use your mind like a torch, seeking out the clenching, holding, bracing tension in your body at this declaration of war.
- Is it in your neck, shoulders, throat, gut, legs, arms?
- If it is a red hot explosive fury in your head it will mean that your ‘fight’ response just went off too. But do you have to act on it?
Breathe in to that defended place.
- Use your mind to direct your breathing in to that part of your body.
- This is easy to do.
- To make it even easier you can put your hand on the body part you’re breathing in to.
- Put your other hand over your heart.
- Breathe in to your heart and the defended place until you feel calm, collected and connected.
- This should take seconds all told, and you can practise at a time when your child isn’t present by remembering and imagining them ‘declaring war’ at you.
Acknowledge all the feelings at play and don’t make either of you wrong for feeling what you feel.
- I hear you, you hate me because x, y, z happened
- It’s okay for you to feel that
- They are big huge feelings
- I am feeling it too. I’m [tell the truth here: overwhelmed/upset/shocked/disturbed] to be honest but it’s okay, I can cope with it and I still love you.
OVER TO YOU
Do you agree that it is all about growing your own emotional intelligence so that you can model it for your child and help them develop theirs?
How do you handle the “I hate you” moments?
Do please share your parental wisdom and thoughts in the comments box below.
If you are more likely to ‘crumple and retreat’ when met with aggression, I will return to that in a month’s time.
PS: PASS IT ON
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