In a scene from the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, the main character states, “I love you Binky, but I don't have to like you right now.” Sometimes this is how we feel about our children, of course we love them, but in certain moments, we do not like them.
Although this is completely understandable, how does your child view you and your relationship with them when this happens?
Unconditional love should be the optimal goal of parents. We have to be careful that we do not withdraw our love when our child does something that we disapprove of. We should not require our child to earn our love, it is always there.
Luckily, when we're at our wit's end, there are some better ways to react than banishing our child to his room, withdrawing our love from him.
One parenting expert gave three examples of how to react to your children when they disobey without withdrawing your love. Alfie Kohn suggests:
1. Ask the child what is going on
Find out the reasoning behind your child's choice then explain your feelings and how the child's action impacted you.
2. Offer choices to your child
Instead of banishing him to his room, give your child some choice in where he would like to retreat and think about what he did.
3. Remove the child from the situation, but not from you
Take your child somewhere to calm down and talk it out.
It does more harm to our children than good when we act in such a way that our children doubt if we love them. We should be focused on building their self-esteem.
In the book Love and Logic by Jim Fay he makes reference to a three legged table of self-esteem. The first leg is, “I am loved by the magical people in my life,” meaning unconditional love from parents and other important relationships.
This can be achieved through even the smallest means like smiling at, hugging and reaching out to a child and letting her know that we care.
When we take the time out of our busy schedule to get down on our child’s level and walk them through the feelings that she is experiencing or through the situation that just happened, it will help her emotionally become more independent while also strengthening your relationship.
Parenting professional Dr. John Gottman gives us five emotion coaching steps that, as we use them with our children, will be an example of how much we really do care.
2. Recognize the emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching
3. Listen empathetically and validate the child’s feelings
4. Help the child verbally label emotions
5. Set limits while helping the child problem solve
Do not let your emotions get the best of you and ruin the relationship with your child when they react in an inappropriate manner. Take the time to think about what the best way to handle the situation is so that they never hear, “I don’t have to like you right now.”