“You’re mean, I hate you!”
“You’re the worst mom ever!”
“This place is stupid!”
“Go to hell!”
“I’m never coming back here!”
“F*ck you sh*t head!”
Shouldn’t we be telling kids to use “nice” language and reprimanding them for saying “bad” words?
I’m here to invite you to reconsider.
This conversation is about so much more than teaching a child right from wrong. It’s about establishing their moral compass, which goes back to their state of emotional regulation.
When a child is even keel and seems to brush things off that can potentially bother them, their nervous system is balanced.
Now, their capacity to handle those bothersome instances will vary, just like ours does.
Put yourself in your car at the end of a long workday…
You are lacking sleep from the night before.
You forgot your packed lunch on your kitchen counter and had to leave off the snacks in your drawer.
Your boss handed you another deadline, and to top it off, your coworker who is on this project with you just called out sick.
All you want to do is come home and watch your favorite Netflix show.
Instead, you open the door, and…the living room is a disaster, there are dishes still in the sink, homework hasn’t been finished yet, and your significant other is asking, “What’s for dinner?”
On a day NOT like today, your response would be filtered and thought out because you would have the capacity for it. Today is not that day.
That scenario is quite similar to how the resources of a child get drained.
Rather than work demands, they have to sit still, pay attention, listen to directions, follow those directions, remember all the rules, block out the noise, write down their homework, bring home their homework, pack their bags, keep themselves together…oh, and somehow learn!
When kids seem to lose control and yell back at you, demand what is seemingly impossible, or say things to you that come off rude, harsh, or “inappropriate,” take those words for what they are.
A reaction to your child feeling scared and helpless. Intense emotional states that they don’t quite yet understand and ones that are really hard to explain.
How do we respond in these moments?
“I hear that you’re not a fan of my answer…I get it that you’re looking for something different.”
“You’re right it feels like there is a lot of unfairness here right now.”
“It sounds like something isn’t as you planned.”
“I’m letting you know that I’m here for you when you need to work things out.”
Depending on your child’s development, your words will change. It’s the message behind those words that remains, which is the following: I am here for you no matter what, especially in your darkest times.
It is your presence, your attitude that makes the difference. Your child will shift when you do.
Decode meltdowns, forgo discipline, and move beyond proving “right” and “wrong.” Understand the connection between emotional regulation and a balanced nervous system. Gain awareness of how the words you choose will change the way your child responds.