I was wondering if you have any thoughts about how to handle a situation where my five year old daughter says “I hate you,” and “you’re mean!” to a friend, or says other hurtful things? (This might happen during a dispute.) I’m wondering not only what to say to my daughter, but what to do to help the friend with hurt feelings.
With appreciation for your Insight,
A follow-up question is that my 5 year old daughter is now repeating something she heard a friend say: “I’m going to kill you.” I don’t think she really understands what this means or that it is a threatening, scary thing to hear. She is exploring what happens when she says these words, because she heard her friend repeatedly say it.
I would greatly appreciate your thoughts about how best to handle this situation. If I tell my daughter not to say a particular word, she is more likely to say it. So when she says hurtful, scary things like, ” I’m going to kill you”, “I hate you” or “you’re mean”, I want to handle the situation in a way that will most effectively reduce the behavior rather than unwittingly increase it.
My impulse is to to do something that might actually give the situation too much energy, and therefore cause her to explore saying these things more. My impulse is to take her over to the side of the room and talk with her about how these words can hurt, to tell her that if it continues we will have to leave the playroom, and to talk about what she can do now to help the other child’s feelings. And if the mean words continue, to follow up by taking her out of the playroom and telling her that we can try again tomorrow.
Perhaps when we are both feeling calm, we can again talk about what happened: what hurtful words are, how she has felt when hurtful things were said to her, and how we can protect our friends’ feelings. Maybe she said those mean things when she was upset about something, and could instead have told the other child what happened that she didn’t like. Perhaps I can use puppets to reenact the scenario and talk with my daughter about what the different puppets might be feeling and, if the mean words were triggered by a conflict, how they could manage their conflict.
I would love to hear your thoughts about how to address this situation.
With much appreciation,
I’m so glad you posted a second question. Something is up with our discussion board and I am not getting notifications. And I’m so glad you reached out.
I don’t know if you have a Listening Partner, yet. But this is the very off-track behavior, that we really need Listening Time around. It’s tough for us not to take what they are saying “literally”. Something to keep in mind is that when our kiddos are off-track, the emotional processing system of their brain is running the show. They have little to no access to the logical/reasoning/language part of their brain and they CAN’T THINK. So we can see the stuff coming out of their mouths as a HELP! HELP! HELP! That’s why it’s sooo important that we are getting Listening Time – so that we can see that emotional gunk for what it is – GUNK!
They are telling us that they feel SCARED/Disconnected/anxious. So we come in with CONNECTION and PLAY. It is so much easier to help them release and let go of this kind of anxiousness/tension through LAUGHTER. Here are some ideas in these three articles:
Most of the time, when we respond to the HURT that is underneath the words – by bringing Connection/Safety/Play, we don’t have to have a discussion about how hurtful the words are. Your sweet girl knows this. She just can’t access that knowing when she is hurting.
You are so smart to want to be RELAXED and not get triggered by her words. That is the first step – your good thinking and awareness. The next step is for YOU to get some emotional support in Listening Time so that you can respond Playfully. I suspect that by helping her to offload the tension/hurt she is feeling, she will be more than capable at navigating conflicts. She knows she has YOU to LISTEN to her feelings.
Let us know how it goes…
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
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“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi