If you have heard those words uttered from the little mouth of one of your offspring then you know it’s a statement and a question that will give you pause. Between the slightly hurt feelings and the need to respond it can take a long moment before you figure out what to say and do. I totally understand this dilemma because one of my daughters, 8-year-old Anna, recently patted my stomach lovingly and playfully then said, “Look at Mommy’s big belly.”
I think my mouth hung open for at least 65 seconds because I was trying to make sure my already raw nerves and my sensitivity about my appearance didn’t come through in my response. I said, “Anna, sometimes you have to be careful what you say because it could hurt someone’s feelings.” Her face immediately fell to the floor and her lips turned down. “It’s okay,” I told her, giving her a hug and a kiss. I didn’t want to make her feel bad; I wanted to teach her to control what she says to others.
You’re not pregnant but your belly is big
If Anna were 4 or 5 years old then I probably would have either tickled her tummy and giggled with her or explained to her the difference between saying something nice and saying something “not nice.” What do you think is the right response? Here are three ways to help you deal with this and similar situations.
- Don’t take it personally. Take a deep breath, or two, before you respond. Mostly children are speaking from a purely honest and inherently good place so don’t take that away from them. If your feelings are hurt take a deep breath and think before you speak. Try this: “Ut oh, I think you’re right, but let’s not remind mommy of that again, okay? It hurts my feelings a little.”
- Don’t take it personally. If you don’t think you can respond without crying or lashing out, give your child a quick kiss and exit the room quickly. You could have had a bad day or maybe you were just beating yourself up about not losing the five pounds you promised yourself. Whatever it is, remember your child doesn’t know anything about that.
- Don’t take it personally. A simple, “I know” and a pat on the head may be the quickest and easiest thing you should do. If you seriously need to lose some weight or workout then maybe consider your child’s statement as just the push you need to get started or to keep going.
Our children love us unconditionally and, for the most part, they aren’t trying to hurt us. Depending on the child’s age, take a moment to explain why what they said was not appropriate. Normally, they don’t have a clue. When children unintentionally hurt our feelings it’s hard to react rationally, but for the sake of teaching them life lessons we have to watch what we say.