5 Ways Moms Hurt Their Child’s Feelings


hurt feelings

“I hurt my child’s feelings without even realizing it!” a friend of mine told me. She and her children were walking through Home Depot, and her daughter kept pulling things off the shelves. She asked the little girl to stop, but her daughter kept right on touching everything, so finally she asked her daughter to hold her hand as they walked along.

“Do you see your brother walking around without holding my hand?” she asked her daughter. “That’s because he knows how to obey, and you don’t.” Ouch.  My friend is really a great parent, but as soon as these words were out of her mouth, and she saw her daughter’s sad face, she realized her discipline efforts had ventured into the realm of hurt feelings.

But go easy on yourself when you do accidentally hurt feelings. Mend them with an apology and hug. And look at these 5 ways moms hurt their children’s feelings, sometimes without even knowing it.

1. Correcting them in public.

It’s happened to most of us… we’re at the grocery store, the doctor’s office, or another place where there are lots of people around. Our child says or does something that is wrong, and often embarrassing. Whew. Before you jump into “let me show these people that I will not put up with that type of behavior mode,” take a deep breath. Give your child a stern look and take him to a private place. If there is no place you can go, whisper in his ear, “What you did was not a good choice. We will talk about it more when we get home.”

You want to avoid shaming your child or disciplining him in public. While it might seem like that type of treatment will make the discipline method you choose even more effective, it won’t.

2. Doubting their abilities.

This is a subtle way moms cause hurt feelings in their children. It’s often something we do without even realizing it. “I heard Josh ran for the student forum,” you might say. “Maybe if you work on your self-confidence this year, you can run in 6th grade.”

Or, “Hey, let me slice those carrots. I don’t think you’re ready to do that yet.”

Our children hear a message of “you’re incapable” when we talk to them like that. Anytime we send the message that we doubt their abilities, their feelings can be wounded.

3. Being distracted.

“Mom! Mom! I got an A on my quiz!” Crickets… We’re often so busy with our work, chores, paying bills or social media that we don’t fully give our children the attention they crave. “Uh, great, honey.”

Kids can tell when their mom deems something else more important than them. {Tweet This}

4. Getting personal.

“What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you be like your brother? You’ll never learn!” Most moms only say these types of things when they’re really angry, frustrated, or tired. If you’ve said something like this to your child, don’t be too hard on yourself. When it happens, apologize to your child as quickly as you can. Tell her what was behind your loss of verbal control.

If you say things like this on purpose, to motivate or punish your child, realize that your words will have the deeper effect of hurt feelings.

5. Withholding affection.

Getting angry or frustrated at our children is a fact of mom life. It happens and it is often justified. What’s not justified is withholding our affection from our children. Let’s say that you have just disciplined your child for something he did wrong. Afterward, they walk toward you and lean their head against your leg. Well, you’re still upset, and you pull away. Do your best to avoid this, even if your anger is still festering. When your child comes to you for reconciliation via affection, be ready to give it.

When’s the last time you slipped up and hurt your child’s feelings?

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