I find myself ‘Googling’ “what should I say when my 4 year-old says________?” so frequently that I feel like I should start my own parenting forum. I guess a blog post will have to do.
My most recent searches have specifically been about self-esteem issues. Sadly, I find myself lacking any originality on the information super highway and I literally just type in “4 year-old with self-esteem issues”. As if, the Google guru’s are supposed to know exactly what I mean. Predictively, they do not.
Lately, my daughter has been struggling with love and all it encompasses. She is the first to say she loves you (a little too frequently) and if you play with her at all (even if she just met you), she will probably tell you she loves you with 10 minutes.
Unfortunately, I think, she thinks, she can only love one or two people at the same time – for she will later say, “I love Briana (her cousin) and mommy, but not daddy”. Clearly, she does love daddy, he (or whomever) is usually not even around when she says it, and if it is not daddy, then she arbitrarily throws out another name of a family member or close friend that she ‘no longer’ loves. Even worse, she thinks if you don’t look at her, or don’t want to play what she wants to play, means you don’t love her.
The Google guru’s did find me an article on Babycenter regarding how to respond when your child says “I hate you”? A close second to, “I don’t love you anymore”!
Guess what? I have heard those dreaded words (I hate you) uttered from the mouth of my incredibly wordy daughter too. How about you? They just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside don’t they? Ahem.
And…guess what? I responded exactly how the ‘expert’ urges NOT to. Shocking.
Though you may be tempted to, avoid responding to your child’s “I hate you!” with “Well, I love you.” This will only shame her. And saying, “You know you love Mommy,” or “There’s no reason to get so upset!” belittles her very real feelings.
Umm…how many of you have replied with shame and belittling too?
Am I, yet again to blame?
Is this a self-esteem issue, or simply a phase?
The neurotic mother in me who studied psychology says it has everything to do with self-esteem.
The stay-at-home mother who knows way to much about phases, says it is a phase.
So, which one is it?
This is why I am enlisting the help of all of you, my trusty readers. If you are a psychologist/psychiatrists, then added bonus!!!
Oh, btw, the correct response (I think) to your child saying hurtful words is to focus on the cause not the response.
For example – if your child tells you that they hate you right after you tell them they can’t have a cookie (the cause) chaser with their morning waffles, then remind them (without mocking) that cookies can be eaten after lunch but an apple or banana is intended for a breakfast time sweet.
Acknowledge their frustration with words, “I can tell you are really upset”, but try not to let them see your frustration (not even a facial muscle twitch). It has nothing to do with you, so don’t give them the power of making it about you. That is how they learn manipulation.
Although the issue for me, is love, not hate. Or is it?
Is it insecurity?
Let the forum begin.