What do I do when my child intentionally does something to hurt my feelings?

Has your child started to do things to intentionally hurt your feelings? Use these Gentle Parenting strategies to guide them to better behaviour.

Mom outside holding up daughter, both happy smiling

When Your Child Hurts Your Feelings On Purpose

As a parent, maybe you’ve found that there are endless behaviours you’ve had to learn how to deal with.

How to soothe an overboiling tantrum.

How to teach your child how to clean up.

How to get a toddler to actually use the potty.

But there is one behaviour that just feels SO much more difficult than the rest, and that is when your child does something to intentionally hurt your feelings.

Maybe they knock your book off the coffee table with a bitter look on their face, or call you a mean mommy.

These behaviours hurt so much more than tantrums or anything else, because it feels personal. It feels like your child is personally attacking you and you can be left questioning every single parenting decision you’ve made up to this point.

Have I been too strict?

Have I been too lenient?

When your child intentionally hurts your feelings you might not even feel like being around them, or it can make you feel like a failure as a mom.

This is not uncommon behaviour

Unfortunately for us moms, this behaviour will probably happen, but fortunately – it’s not because we’re bad moms.

Acting out in this way is common among children, but how we decide to respond will help determine how frequently it keeps happening and how our children will learn to do better.

Gentle Parenting Power Tools Free Resource

Why is my child doing this?

There are a few factors that could account for your child intentionally hurting your feelings, think these reasons over to decide if it’s something that might apply for your child.

You child might be hurting your feelings intentionally because:

They’re copying what they’ve seen on TV

Is it possible that they’ve seen similar behaviour on TV? It’s possible that they are mimicking and experimenting with something from a show they’ve watched.

Quick fix: Consider limiting their screen time or any shows that might encourage them to experiment with challenging behaviour.

They’re over-tired

Perhaps your child is intentionally hurting your feelings because they are over tired. We can all admit to getting a bit cranky when we’re tired.

Quick fix: More sleep! (Need help getting your child to sleep MORE? Check this out.) LINK

They feel disconnected from you

When children haven’t had enough quality time with the parent they can feel disconnected and in desperate need of time together.

Quick fix: Spend some one on one time together without distractions, doing something you can both enjoy. Avoid any activities where potentially more behaviour issues could come up so it can feel like an overall positive experience for both of you.

They’re going through a growth spurt, phase or testing boundaries

What can I say, this might just be temporary and you have to ride it out, so there’s no quick fix but just remember to be consistent and gentle in your response. Whenever scientists do tests they want to make sure they get the same results many times before they can make it a “fact” and the same is true for our kids.

If they’re testing boundaries with us then they’re slowly trying to figure out what exactly our response will be. So stay consistent.

Gentle Parenting Power Tools Free Resource

These are possible reasons for your child intentionally hurting your feelings

But you’ll have to decide for yourself if you think it applies to your specific child.

These are reasons but not excuses, we don’t want to become permissive and simply ignore the behaviour, but we also don’t want to come down on them too strongly and end up losing a teaching moment. Keep reading to learn what to do.

How do I handle this behaviour?

So you know why your child might be doing this and some things that might help to prevent it, but how do you actually handle the situation when it happens?

There are 3 simple things I want you to remember during this moment:

  1. Voice feelings
  2. Be patient and loving
  3. Ask them about it later

Voice feelings

It’s important to voice your feelings, and your child’s.

To voice your own feelings you can say, “I didn’t like it when you did that. I’m going to fix it by ____” Or say, “Do you have any ideas to help me fix this?” Take a deep breath if you need to, and calmly tell your child in a non-judgmental way but rather a matter of fact way, that you did not like what they did. Your feelings matter too so it’s ok to simply explain to your child that it hurt your feelings.

You can also voice THEIR feelings. Validating feelings is actually one of my 6 Pillars of Gentle Parenting because it’s just that important. Were they feeling angry about something? Maybe they didn’t have the words to express themselves so they used their actions instead?

You can say something like, “I see you’re feeling very angry right now. When you feel angry you can ____.” And offer them an appropriate alternative to expressing their anger.

It’s possible that they are acting out in this way because they have the anger but don’t know what to do with it.

Be patient and loving

In this moment, you might be feeling a lot of things. You might be feeling frustrated, angry, irritated and even hurt. It’s easy for this big emotions of ours to come out in how we correct our child in that moment, but it’s important to consistently offer a patient and loving response.

Try taking a deep breath and give yourself a moment to decide what you’re going to say so that the first words that come out of your mouth aren’t words you regret. If you struggle with mom anger you might want to check out this post: 6 Ways to Stop Being an Angry Mom

They might be very impatient and unloving in the moment, but it’s still a chance for you to model appropriate reactions to them. One day someone might be mean to them, and won’t it be lovely when they react with patience and love towards that person. It starts with you.

Ask them about it more later on

Once your child has intentionally done something to hurt your feelings, it can become a highly emotional moment for both of you. If you want to talk to them about what happened consider how emotional you’re both feeling to decide if it’s a conversation for later when you’re both thinking more rationally.

You can ask your child why they did it, what they were feeling or what they were trying to say with that action. Remember, all behaviour is communication.

Once you’ve discussed it, you can still express how it made you feel and offer solutions for next time. Try to avoid dragging out the conversation to “make a point” because this might make them feel even worse, and you’ll lose the impact of the teachable moment.

Talking about it can give them a chance to express themselves and even help them to work out in their minds why they did it. Be a listening ear so they can come to their own conclusions about what happened, maybe they will realize they were overtired before you even tell them that’s the case.

Don’t lose heart

These moments can definitely hurt and feel totally overwhelming, but your relationship with your child doesn’t have to be hurt by it, and it’s probably not something that will last for a long time, especially if you are able to intervene in the gentle ways mentioned above.

Read Next:

How to Feed Dinner to a Picky Child

How to Respond to a 3-4 Year Old When They Lie

How to Discipline a Child with 8 Simple Strategies

1 thought on “What do I do when my child intentionally does something to hurt my feelings?”

  1. Christopher Edmonds

    Need advice on how to proceed with my 17 year old daughter. Her mom wanted a divorce after 17 years of marriage, daughter was 12 at the time. I worked too many hours to provide a comfortable lifestyle and the little free time I had we were at different locations having 3 kids in year round sports. My ex found a new job and found a man who makes great money and was able to give the love she desired. This man is a narcissist, she did not see the red flags as he was convicted of DV and engaged to a different woman when they met, moved him in 3 months after breaking the news to the kids we were divorcing and are now married but is unhappy now. I digress. I entered a new relationship, researched when to introduce my new partner and took my time in their best interests. First interaction with the kids was after 7 months of dating, they had no idea I was dating unlike my ex where he had moved in the same day they met. Had dinner at a restaurant, went for a walk after. First overnight visit was more than a year after dating. I thought my new love was perfect, social worker dealing with children, same interests, desired a family, a family I had (she had one adult child, wanted more but couldn’t have them) found my forever after. My daughter found the motherly bond she was missing (bio mom never engaged, too busy chasing her own desires resulting in me having 100 percent parenting time due to her decisions). I got engaged, we moved in together and my new partners true colors came out. She belittled my every move but wanting kids and being a social worker she made sure to do this outside of the childrens visibility. I stayed in the relationship longer then I should to protect my daughter from another heart break. When I finally ended the relationship which resulted in obtaining a restraining order against my second ex my daughter had created such a strong bond with my ex she was devastated. She was 17 at the time and refused to come home, believing the lies my ex imprinted on her. A DCS case was filed against me which was dismissed unfounded and dismissed yet my daughter refused to come home. In talking to the police they recommended I give her space to which I obliged. After 3 weeks of her staying with a friend I demanded her to come home. The first few weeks were difficult but family therapy helped rebuild our relationship, at least that is what I thought. The last 6 months I have patented on egg shells with her. Have been overly lenient with chores and consequences where otherwise I would not be. I feel she is faking her behaviors towards me but accept faking good behaviors over an upset miserable teenager (her relationship with her mom has improved and told her when she turns 18 she is moving in with my recent ex to which my ex wife told me. I told my ex I would not share this with our daughter to protect her progress in their relationship and to this day have made no mention of it). I have depleted every bit of savings I had in court between the two failed relationships, my mental health has suffered greatly from each each relationship (I own my part for each failure) and have always fallen on the sword to protect the children at my own expense. I have never spoken an ill word of either woman (I want to be the righteous one and rise above the situation ensuring the children are not in the middle). I apologize for the long message and will now get to the point. Today we found out my daughter has a health concern requiring an emergency Dr appt. Our daughter wants bio mom to attend her Dr appt and not me. Im the one who for the past 5 years has done all the appt scheduling, even scheduled her initial appt for her health concern even after asking my ex to do so who failed to do so. When bio mom found out the seriousness of the results she finally jumped into action scheduling the next day appt, when it wasn’t a health scare she had no desire or concern. Our daughter told me she wants mom present and not me. I told her that is fine since it is an OB appt but if im being honest I was crushed and devastated. She doesn’t even want me in the waiting room. Im exhausted with putting everyone before me. Is it inappropriate to share my feelings with my daughter?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sometimes feel like a failure as a mom?

Get the #1 tip to end it & rock at parenting

Note: When you click the button you agree to the website's privacy policy. You'll also receive exclusive emails about gentle parenting and motherhood from Lizzy Mash. You can unsubscribe at any time.

End the Discipline Stress

Stop guessing when it comes to discpline by learning the basics of Gentle Parenting - an effective, respect based parenting strategy.

Effective Discipline Strategies

Stop guessing when it comes to discipline.

Learn these proven discipline strategies because you'll need them every day.

Note: When you sign up you agree to the website's privacy policy. You'll also receive exclusive emails about gentle parenting and motherhood from Lizzy Mash. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Scroll to Top