Q. How do I deal with my child when he tells me horrible things? What about if he kicks me, pinches me, or even scratches me? I get mad right away, and that makes him abuse me even more. I feel like I am stuck and don’t know what to do.
~ Very Hurt Dad
Wow, very hurt to say the least! Believe it or not, this terrible situation you are describing is common. Children, just like all of us, can get very angry. They, like all of us, often want to express their anger physically. Children, however, not like all of us, do not have much experience in controlling their anger or using words to express themselves instead of physical force. What to do?
There are three very important steps to take to “fight” off this situation and make it STOP!
1. Right away, accept the immediate hurt. Once you do that, you will see that the hurt will not feel as painful.
2. Put a stop to whatever your child is doing . You have the power to do that, and you must. Then follow quickly with this important statement, “If you do hurtful actions like that to me, I feel like doing hurtful actions like that back to you. That feeling keeps me from being able to parent you well. It keeps me from loving you and protecting you in every way possible, and that is my job!”
3. Next express whatever understanding you have of his anger and then love, love, love and love him more. He has all kinds of wonderful qualities, and you want to focus on each and every one of them as much as possible.
Now you are set to proceed with all that is described in our tip from last week: Handling Child Hurt
~ Dr. Sally