Handling Child Hurt

FatherDaughterWalkQ: How do I parent effectively when my ex is bad-mouthing me to my child? How do I handle my 3-year old’s negative behavior directly targeted at me? How do I cope with being really really hurt by my own child?

~ Very Hurt Dad

A: Hi Dad,

Please do not worry. Help is on the way. There are 15 Pillars of Parenting that you will always have for help. Each one has it own place and plays its own special role. For right now I present you with “Pillar #5.” It is clearly explained on Monday Morning Coffee as “Separate the Behavior from Your Child.”

Basically, it helps you hear even the worst criticism from your child and face it in a sensible, productive, and beneficial way.

Here goes… You don’t like what your child said or did, but you love your child. This very important mental separation is the exact tool you need to combat even the worst hostility like…

“I hate you, and I want to cut you up with a knife and kill you.” (Please excuse this real sentence that a parent sent in. There are real children who say real things like this, and luckily there are real parenting tools for coping.

Hard as it may seem, being able to separate out these kinds of words from your child is the exact right thing to do to get yourself in position for this next important three-part process:


1. Understand – Spend some time learning in a positive supportive way trying to understand what your child is saying and how and why he came to say that.
2. Forgive – Go ahead and express every kind of love and affection you can. Know that it is or was a “mistake of behavior.”
3. Teach – Do what you can to explain to your child how not to make this same mistake again.

Putting these two processes together (“Separate the behavior from the child” and “Understand, forgive, and then teach”) you have a wonderful system for continuing to face what is going on and also for any new challenges that might be coming next.

As always, love your child in every way you know how. You cannot love your child too much!

Keep yourself future oriented by continuing to build with your child a new and positive way of life. The best way to decrease the power of old negatives is to fight them with new positives. Everyone knows the phrase “There is no time like the present.” Start now to create your new life in your own way.

Just because it is often hard to be spontaneous and think on the spot, I refer you to one of my books. Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play And Learn Program

It is packed with ways to have fun together in sound educational ways. There are 168 preschool games that are designed for parent-child educational play. Little by little they keep building child self-esteem. Having this kind of a positive individualized program provides a built-in way to develop a solid parent-child relationship.

Dr. Sally
“Every child should have the finest experiences, and every parent should know how to provide them!”


  1. Divorce can be so complex for children of any age. We need to be especially empathic and compassionate when dealing with children affected by divorce and put ourselves in their shoes before we respond to them. Showing love and role modeling acceptance and understanding will go a long way toward smoothing challenging relationships if we are consistent and persistent. Change won’t happen over night but parents should never give up hope of happier relationships ahead with the children we love.

  2. Hi Rosalind,
    It is a pleasure to have you as one of our Site Specialists here on https://www.earlychildhoodnews.net. Parenting in the simplest of situations is not easy, and adding the element of divorce makes it more complicated. We all so much appreciate the kind of insight and guidance that you so expertly provide to parents who are either divorced or in the process of going through one.

  3. Dad this behavior is so common, and it is sad that the other parent does not understand how much they are hurting the child, These years are critical for the development of the brain when the wiring of the brain is taking place. Having positive experiences are critical in developing social, emotional and cognitive skills which is the roots of socialization. I think that you have to take the high road and be the adult. Just love your baby, and when she makes statements that are not nice, just explain to her that “those words hurt and that they are not nice to say.” If she says “but mommy says them,” you should say yes, mommy says them but we do not use those words in our house.” You should be very calm and get down and look in her eyes when you say those words. This is how you guide young children toward the behavior that you would like them to exhibit. This experience will happen when she begins school. This is a good time to practice guidance.

    Your daughter is not able to make decisions because young children are very impulsive and just repeat what they hear. You have to begin to teach her empathy by introducing to her that certain vocabulary hurt, and give her the time to associate the action with the word. Usually when she falls that will be an opportunity to introduce the word once so that she gets the meaning, associating both word and action. You can now introduce the concept of how words can be hurtful also. Your toddler will begin to help the other parent understand that what she is doing is wrong.

    Once you introduce a concept to young children and allow time for them to grasp that concept by understanding it. Then they will incorperate it into their cognitive skills. Be patient.


  1. […] Now you are set to proceed with all that is described in our tip from last week: Handling Child Hurt […]

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