Whether is a*hole, jerk, dummy, or stupid, it hurts when our kids/teens lash out in anger. No matter the age, correcting the use of the ‘bad word’ is probably not going to diffuse the situation in the moment. Focusing on the emotions behind the words will, however.
1. Check On Yourself
No, not ‘check yourself’, check in ON yourself. This series is not only about how to respond to your child, but also a check in to all my parents out there to make sure you’re comforting yourself. Parenting is hard as hell. PLEASE do something for yourself regularly so that you can be able to take that verbal tomato thrown at you. Reading your book club book that you don’t actually like doesn’t count.
Paint your nails, take a yoga class and actually go, whittle some wood, dig in the yard and plant something you can feel proud to watch grow (only if gardening is actually your thing). None of this Keeping up with the Jones’ hobby shit. If you don’t like to knit, stop doing that to relax. Find some sort of self-care activity (I’m sure there’s a Pinterest list about it) that sends the message to yourself that you are worth the 30-60 minutes a week. Yes, you heard me; monthly parent’s night out isn’t going to cut it.
As parents, it’s easy to prioritize our kids’ sports practices, scouts meetings, and other events over our own interests.
Cool it. Find a friend who can carpool. Your kid will benefit more from a parent who can keep their cool when they are overwhelmed than one that shows up to ALL THE THINGS but can’t keep their shit together at home.
Feel like I’m going too far with this post?
Let me ask you this: why do we take in the parenting blogs that tell us all the things we’re doing wrong for our kids, the things we SHOULD prioritize for their healthy development, and yet dismiss ones that encourage we prioritize our own well-being?
In order to forgive ourselves for the times we do lose our shit at home, and do better next time, we have to be available for change. We cannot be available for change as parents if we are in survival mode.
2. Name the Feeling
I’ve written about empathy before. I will write about it again. Here, I’m talking to you about naming your feelings. What besides hurt are you experiencing when you hear those words your child flings at you? Do you hear your 5th grade bully saying you’re no good? Or your caregivers as a child when you didn’t measure up?
Experience that pain.
Maybe that means you take a longer shower and let the tears flow, but either way, understand why these words are so powerful for your children when they use them. It will help you teach them why they’re not appropriate later.
You are responsible for your own emotional management.
If you regularly treat yourself with compassion, it will be easier to let your child’s poor choice of words when they are hurting mean less to you. With this, you can avoid lecturing, time-outs, writing lines, and all those other punishment and shame-oriented responses that are based in anger, frustration, or exasperation when our children are not able to manage their emotions.
Want to know more about what and when to respond to your child when they use this language? Next week I’ll cover that.
Despite my cuss words above, I’m not going to say it’s no big deal that your kids are using these bad words. But, as you can probably tell, the soap in my mouth at 7 didn’t do shit. (Sorry mom!)