We have all had those days when our kids come home and they seem a little more on edge, quick to cry or get mad. You may feel as though you unintentionally just stepped on an roller coaster and boy are you in for the ride of your life. As you navigate this ride, you discover that you have just joined them on the roller coaster of emotions that they have been holding in all day until they encountered you, the one they love more than anything, who will jump in with them.
- Give your child time to communicate. A lot of times this happens during cuddle time right before bed. Honor this time with your child. Some times it may feel like a procrastination technique, however, they may be trying to free their precious brains of the things that happened during the day. Some times those things that they are trying to process are the comments that may have been or they may be interpreting as hurtful. Resist the urge to bombard them with questions, it is okay to sit in silence and wait.
- Don’t judge. As a parent, a very natural reaction when someone makes a hurtful comment about your child is to say, “well, that kid is mean.” Please refrain from putting down the other child in front of your child. This only teaches that calling names is okay and may build a barrier to your child ever becoming friendly with the child who has hurt them.
- Talk about what happened before. In some situations a child may unknowingly or on purpose do something to classmate that leads to them making a hurtful comment. The mean comment is still unwarranted and unacceptable, but sometimes knowing what happened before is helpful in diffusing the situation. If you find your child did do something, such as not include the child in a game, it is easy to help them correct the behavior in the future so the other child responds in a more positive manner.
- Brainstorm responses. Next, come up with responses that your child could say when someone says “I don’t like you.” Talk through using a confident tone and body language when addressing the child that has made a hurtful comment. Finish by making a plan on what to say as well as what to do next after they address the other child.
- Role play. You want your child to be as prepared as possible in the situation. The best way to do that is to practice and rehearse what they will say. Take turns being the child who makes the mean comment and the child who stands up for herself.
If you are interested in some books on this topic be sure to check out: Tease Monster, Bye, Bye Bully and Stop Picking on Me.
Adapted from the Mess for Less blog