How should you respond when your child tells you “I hate myself”?
Your sweet child who you love more than life itself. Who you have poured your love and attention on since they were so small. Who you’ve supported through the happy times and life’s challenges.
You want the best for them, you want them to be happy.
So these words coming from their lips can be devastating.
Often our ‘auto-parent response’ might be to talk them out of it, to reassure them, to tell them not to be so silly or to react harshly, telling them not to think those thoughts.
What a child needs at this moment is to be heard and understood. To know you are there to listen without judgement (even if you feel like dying inside).
Listen: Five Simple Tools To Help You Meet The Everyday Challenges of Parenting by Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore is an excellent introduction to the Hand in Hand Parenting approach. The book clearly outlines the five Hand in Hand listening tools: Listening Partnerships, Special Time, Playlistening, Staylistening and Setting Limits.
These simple yet profound parenting tools give parents the strategies they need to implement the theory of gentle, attachment-based parenting in their families.
When mealtimes feel hard, try these kind ideas to help. They work even if your child is super strong-willed or very picky.
When my sweet toddler moved from her high chair to sit with us at the table, I shared her excitement. I felt proud at how grown up she had become. But then she discovered freedom and our mealtimes changed.
No longer stuck in her high chair, she began jumping down from her seat at will and running around the table. It was cute and fun at first as she made laps of the table, full of giggles.
But before long, more time was spent roaming the kitchen than sitting at the table. She insisted she needed to:
So, my negotiations and pleas continued and soon she wouldn’t sit at the table at all. Food would go uneaten yet twenty minutes later she was begging for snacks.
Clearly, mealtimes were not working but I didn’t know what to do about it.
A few year’s back when my daughter was about four years old, a new family moved into our neighbourhood and their two children started to play in our back garden. One child was the same age as my daughter and her big brother was about four years older.
The trampoline in our garden was a big attraction and the three children started bouncing on it happily.
I noticed that the older boy was jumping quite aggressively, diving on purpose into his sister and pinning her to the ground.
She shrieked in protest but he refused to get off her and laughed at her attempts to free herself.
He was the only one enjoying the game.
Before I had time to intervene my own daughter took matters into her own hands. She got down to the boy’s level and shouted “No means no. If someone says “STOP” you have to stop.”
My first year of motherhood felt a bit like trying to stay in control of a runaway train. Breastfeeding did not come easily to me and so I was delighted to reach the milestone of feeding my daughter for a full year.
But I had grown to hate breastfeeding.
My daughter was feeding throughout the night almost every hour, sometimes more. She breastfed only occasionally during the day but as soon as nighttime came the 24-hour diner was very much open for business.
We were co-sleeping and she seemed to be permanently attached to me. I had forgotten what deep sleep felt like.
Last December my husband and I had two weeks off work.
In previous years we had planned lots of holiday activities, day trips and overnight stays with friends and family. It had all been a little too busy and overwhelming for both us and the children, and so this year we decided we would hibernate at home and make very few plans.
We all had time to wind down. My husband and I were feeling relaxed and resourced enough to get playful with our daughter, aged eight, and our son, aged four.
One night towards the beginning of the holidays, I suggested we have a family wrestle before bed.
We used a spare mattress on the floor as our wrestling arena, and we made the rules up as we went along but it went something like this:
My eight-year-old daughter came home from school this week asking if she was going to catch Coronavirus.
Her school Principal had spoken to her class about Coronavirus and the new procedures they were putting in place for children to wash their hands before lunch and break time.
Although I was following the news carefully trying to make sense of the Coronavirus outbreak myself, I had not discussed it with my daughter. It had no direct relevance to her life at that point and I did not want to alarm her unnecessarily.
However, now that it was moving closer to home I knew it was time to talk about it.
Pamela works with parents, supporting them as they strive to raise conscious, respectful children.