What To Do When Your Kids Hate You :(

Monday, December 02, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Today, in an effort to figure out what to get my son for Christmas, my husband asked him what made him the happiest.

Phoenix got a strange look on his face and said that the answer wasn't going to be what we wanted. What made him the happiest was when two days earlier, when he was being mean to me, I was being nice to him. Hearing him say that meant the world to me.

You see, a few days ago, we went to his friend's house to play. The kids played for about 2 hours, and at 1pm, it was time for us to go back home. One o'clock is nap time for my kids. Even at almost 5 years old, Phoenix is still very much in need of his after-lunch naps and becomes very difficult when he misses one. Well, when we got in the car, it became apparent that I was already into rough territory. He refused to put his seat-belt on. When we finally did get it on, he was yelling/complaining about how mean I was to take him away from his friend's house. Then, most annoying of which, he started kicking on my seat. I asked him to stop, but he didn't until we were nearly home.

Stuff like this has happened before. I knew how this scenario was likely to play out. We'd get to the house, I'd ask him to use the restroom and get ready for bed, and he would scream, tell me he wants me to go to jail, perhaps even walk out of the house to "go to jail" himself, because clearly I didn't love him. I'd scream, yell, and completely lose my temper in an effort to get him to bed. Of course, it wouldn't work. He'd end up in his room drawing diagrams of his heart, and how I have broken it. I usually end up apologizing for my poor behavior, and tell him that nobody should ever treat him that way. He says that it's okay, which can even make me more sad. It's not okay... it's so not okay. As I slowly walk out of his room, I can't help but think about how much damage my screaming & yelling has done to my poor son.

Well, this time, I did something different. I decided that instead of getting mad, I was going to show him how much I loved him. So, I walked into the house to find his jacket on the floor. He told me he threw it there because he didn't like me. I just gave him a genuine, sweet smile, picked up his jacket, and hung it on the hook for him. And, told him that's okay. I explained that I picked it up for him because I did love him.

Then, I opened a new bag of Doritos... a rare treat in our house. My daughter asked for some, and I gave her one. Then, it was Phoenix's turn. Genuine tears started welling up in his eyes, and he started crying. I asked him kindly if he wanted to go talk on the chair, and he said he did. So, we headed over to the chair, and he sat on my lap. In between deep sobs, he told me that he wanted to ask for some Doritos too, but knew that he didn't deserve any because of how he had been acting. I asked him how he had been acting, and he said that he had been very mean to me the entire ride home, was kicking my chair, and was mean once we were home too.

Then, I did something that even surprised myself a bit. I got right up from that chair, got a Dorito, placed it at Phoenix's spot at the table, and gave him a smile. I told him that I gave it to him because I still love him. He was in complete shock that I would do that for him after how mean he had been to me. It was almost a bit magical, but I felt that in that moment, and in many moments, he needs to know that I'll always love him... no matter what. He can be in a bad mood, make the wrong decisions, be mean to me, and I will love him anyways.  I've never really used food to reward behavior before or to show love, but something about doing it in that moment just felt right.

After the kids had a few more chips, I was going to ask him to go to bed, but thought that it would just cause more problems. Plus, I knew with all of the drama we had just been through that there was no chance he was going to go to sleep. So, I asked him to play quietly in his room as I put Ariana to bed. He did, and the rest of the day was smooth sailing.

Part of me is still sad that Phoenix actually thought there were times I truly didn't love him. But, all of me is glad I took that moment to really connect with him and show him my unconditional love... even if it was something as little as giving him a Dorito.

I knew this meant a lot to him when two days later, my husband asked him what made him the happiest... and he didn't mention a toy... he didn't say a television show... he said that it was when a few days earlier when I was nice to him when he was being mean to me. That is what made him the happiest.

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