Please tell me this has happened to someone else too . . .
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 kids ten 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 my 5 year old 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 lucky 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 my youngest child that said this. She's 5 years old. It is not my tween, who is at the likely stage of life for this sort of comment. It is not my son, who would say almost anything to get out of ever having to go shopping again. Nope, it is my 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 my 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 of a 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 something. 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. My 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. Maybe we all just needed a good nap. But no matter what we always need love, and it’s okay to give a little extra of that everyday.
How to respond to your child with LOVE when your child annoys you
- Calm down. Count to 10 or even 100 if you need to. Remove yourself from the situation for a moment. Wait until you feel less angry. It was quite a few hours before I was ready.
- Don’t take it personally. 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. Sometimes there is another reason they are saying these things. It could be a signal that they need a little extra parenting and some positive attention.
- It’s never too late. 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 and it’s okay if you have to just keep trying as you work at your relationship with your child.