“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Here is a question we received recently from an overwrought mother. “My 5-year-old daughter keeps saying things like ‘I hate you’ and ‘I want a new family.’ It’s breaking my heart. Can you help?”
This situation is not uncommon. It is, in fact, a question we have been asked on more than one occasion. With that in mind, we have some recommendations for this mom and any other moms who have ever found themselves in a similar situation.
There is no doubt this 5-year-old realizes her words are emotionally charged. She may not have known the power of those two sentences the first time they were spoken, but it was evident as soon as Mom responded emotionally. The child has evidently done a good job of making Mom feel guilty.
Those words are powerful manipulators. Even though we know neither the child nor the mom we feel certain that she DOES love Mom and she DOES NOT want a new family. She is saying those things to gain control and get her mother’s attention.
Mom’s response is very important. Rather than talk to the daughter about those statements, we suggest simply ignoring them. It will be important for Mom to resist the temptation to show any particular emotion or to try to explain her position.
After ignoring the manipulative statements Mom should take a step back and consider several things. How much time is she spending with her daughter? Would it be possible to give a little more positive attention? Mom will need to be certain this attention is not given when hurtful words are spoken. Instead she can look for other times to build a stronger relationship with this child.
Ignore the manipulation and connect with love! Building a loving relationship is important.
How have you responded to hurtful words from a child?