|Responding with LOVE when your child annoys you|
It is at that moment, with me in the "why me?" state, that Baby Girl says to me from her front seat in the cart, "I wish I could live at Carrie's house. Her mom is so nice." (Names have been changed to protect the innocent child that actually has a nice mom).
I stop dead in my tracks. I don't know if I am surprised, hurt, or just plain annoyed. Now remember, it is Baby Girl that said this. She's 5 years old. It is not Sweet Tween, who is at the likely stage of life for this sort of comment. It is not Little Son, who would say almost anything to get out of ever having to go shopping again. Nope, it is Baby Girl. The child I still put to bed with a story and a song every night. The child I still cut sandwiches into little triangles for.
What is the perfect mommy answer to this? Should I ignore it? Probably. Do I? No.
I begin with a frustrated, angry-type response. "That's mean to say."
Then I move to manipulation. "That makes Mommy sad after all I've done for you and all the fun we've had."
Then I go to sarcasm. "Besides, NO mommy is nice all the time. Carrie's mommy is mean sometimes too. Geesh!"
It's hard to tell what Baby Girl is thinking sometimes. So I don't know which of my responses, if any, really get through to her. I finish my nightmare Walmart trip, surviving the longest wait in the check-out line ever.
That night, after all has calmed down and I've had time to think, I realize I forgot to respond to her with love. I should have hugged her and told her how much I'd miss her if she lived somewhere else.
I decide it's not too late for this.
As I put her to bed, I tell her how much she means to me and how sad I'd be without her. Baby Girl gives me a gigantic hug and with tears in her eyes, she tells me, "Mommy, I don't want another mom. You are the best mom--even if you aren't always nice." I hug her back. No response but that this time.
Maybe she just needed to hear that she is loved. Maybe I just needed to hear that I'm the best, even if I'm not the nicest.
How to respond to your child with LOVE (the steps I should take next time!):
1. Count to 10 or even 100 if you need to. Remove yourself from the situation for a moment. Calm down.
2. Don't take all your child's words personally. They are still learning and they still love you. They need you to show them by example how to respond to mean words and turn the situation around.
3. It's never too late to respond with love. Even after the situation is over, you can always go back and give more love. Don't forget that children need extra love and affirmations from you after they've had a hard or negative experience.
Good luck! It's an on-going process.