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