If you’ve been thinking, “I don’t like my child” then this post is for you.
It’s probably taboo to write this and I’m going to catch some flak, but I’ve got a thick skin and it must be said.
Sometimes our kids act very unlikable.
It’s not that we don’t love them. Of course you love your child and you’d do anything for them. And if someone else said they weren’t likable, well, them’s fighting words! But still it’s a fact. Some days we just won’t like being around our kids. It is likely a transitory problem that you don’t even think about.
However, if you find yourself frequently feeling that you don’t like being around your kid (or you are worried that’s how others feel), here are some thoughts.
1. Isolate the “why”
One day last week I found time with my daughter extremely difficult. She was being super clingy and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I took a second and asked myself, “What on earth is going on?” It was an easy answer. She needed time and attention from me, and since she wasn’t getting it, she was being clingy. And pretty much every clingy behavior in the book drives me up the wall.
What behavior is it that’s turning you off? Screaming, whining, clinginess, bad behavior, mean words, or bad attitude? If it’s something behavioral that can and should be addressed, go from there. If it’s just a facet of their personality, that’s a different route. If it is a characteristic most people would find unlikable then you can work to help them manage it. If it’s simply something neutral that drives you up the wall, learn to deal.
2. Identify your trigger
If you are beginning to feel you love your child – but don’t always really like them – start seeking out triggers. Feeling this way occasionally isn’t a crime, but your child will pick up on your lingering feelings and if you aren’t able to hide your annoyance or dislike then there will be many undesirable consequences.
If they are tired, in pain, or hungry… does that make them behave negatively? If so, remember that and cut them slack when those behaviors begin. That and put them to bed, help alleviate the pain, and feed them. If it’s loud voices or screaming that puts you off, explain your sensitivity to the noises and find a place (outside) they can yell that won’t bother you. In fact, do some good ole anger management activities.
3. Fill their love tank
It seems easiest to just put them in time out or take away a privilege to help eradicate bad behavior. But often, however, unlikable behavior is just attention seeking. If they don’t feel loved or close to you they’ll try to get your undivided attention any way they can. Try cuddling the daylights out of them and finding one on one time.
When I find my children difficult, ahem, to be around there are usually two reasons: physical discomfort and need of my attention. Even 15 minutes alone with that child reading, talking, or playing a game is often enough to turn the day around.
4. Discipline and train out unlikable behaviors
Some behaviors may be unlikable (to you) that aren’t inherently bad. They are amoral and simply a facet of their personality that may not mesh well with yours. That’s okay! However, there are other behaviors that you won’t like nor will anyone else. Lying, hitting, biting, insulting, and whining are examples. Instead of shaming those behaviors out of them, train them in alternatives.
Shaming and guilt tripping your children is not effective long term. If you need to eradicate a negative behavior, have a zero tolerance policy and a consequence you enforce every single time. If it’s simply an annoying behavior like talking too loudly or squealing, then have a code word or signal you can do to show them they need to correct their tone. Consistency is the key.
5. Accept them
Children need to know they are loved and accepted despite their flaws. Does that mean we allow bad behavior to abound? Not at all. But it does mean because they are our children and part of our families we must show them unconditional acceptance. This is not to be confused with unconditional love. When you start to feel resentment and bitterness towards your child it’s time to step back.
Instead of blaming their unlikable behavior, start by showing them love, acceptance, and attention first. After a few days of this you’ll probably find many of those behaviors have left. And, because you’ve oriented your heart towards them, your annoyance will likely have softened as well. Then begin the discipline and bad behavior eradication.
It’s normal to love them all the time, but not like them every day. Just don’t let it get away from you.
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