Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Responding With Love

Please tell me this has happened to someone else too . . . .

Responding with LOVE when your child annoys you
Picture me, a typical frazzled mom at Walmart.  I'm with all my kids.  It's the peak hours on a Saturday.  I'm trying to get a loaded list done in time to get us all to an appointment.  I've already told my kidlets 10 times already, "No we are not buying the puffed cheese balls," and "Please stay by Mommy!" and "Take the Pillow Pet out of the cart and back on the shelf".

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.


  1. Thanks for this. I am struggling in Mommydumb right now.

    1. I've never heard the term Mommydumb before, but somehow I know exactly what it means!

  2. Thanks for sharing! Kids can say some hurtful things sometimes without even knowing! I've just learned to take it all with a grain of salt. Besides other kids probably say the same thing about you because they are a guest in your home and you can be sweet and nice to them all the time...because they eventually go home to their "mean mommy!" haha. I'm glad you were able to learn from it and love your child right back!

  3. Thanks for sharing this Lisa. Yesterday my darling son, yelled at me out of frustration over something (he's in full blown puberty according to doc). It literally hurt my heart and my immediate response (which is NOT typical) was "ouch, that hurt my heart, is that how you feel when I yell at you?" He responded with "yeah, sometimes." I just simply said, "wow buddy, I am so sorry." Usually when he responds with snarkiness or disrespect, I lecture about respect. This time it dawned on me where he got it and how hurtful it is when I do it. Ouch twice!

    1. Oh yes. Definitely ouch. Teens are a whole different ball game but like you said the principle of responding with love works for any age.


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