"Stupid Mommy!"

brain development conscious parenting defiant behavior emotion regulation self-compassion
Stupid Mommy!

Sometimes, things that come out of our kid’s mouth are hard to not take personally. 

After all, we are human beings with feelings and the need to be loved and feel safe. 

Even though we rationally might know that the tiny person in front of us is not trying to intentionally hurt us or make us angry, when our child says something like, “stupid mommy!” (gasp!) to us, we can certainly get emotionally triggered (like one of my clients was recently).

But the thing is, what we often think of as “disrespectful” behavior from our kids (including name-calling) results from not having the prefrontal functioning (brain development) to be able to manage/regulate their emotions when they’re mad, disappointed, sad, etc. 

In other words, it's NORMAL for our little kids to basically have no filter at this stage of their life when they’re emotionally dysregulated. 


If/when this happens to you, remember that your little one does not hate you or think you are stupid. They just DON'T.

It is not biologically in their interest to make you mad on purpose…they depend on you for survival. So it would make no sense - from an evolutionary perspective - for them to INTENTIONALLY piss you off.

So, when you hear those words come out of their mouth, you just have to take a deep breath and tell yourself "wow, they’re really having a hard time right now,” or “they’re having some big feelings."

If they say something disrespectful or hurtful, you first have to offer YOURSELF the love and compassion that they are unable to give you in this moment - and then beam them as much love as you can possibly muster.

They’re saying these things because they’re struggling.

And even if what they’re mad about (e.g. no more chocolate before dinner) seems like a petty concern to you...it's very very real for them. They want what they want and it's disappointing when they can't have what they want. That's real.

Ignoring the hurtful comments in these moments of frustration and anger (while they’re in survival mode) is NOT teaching them that it's ok…they KNOW it's not ok to say those things. 

And they will likely feel remorse later - like at bedtime or in the morning. 

IN THE MOMENT of distress, they are unable to process the lesson anyway. (But I guarantee you they know it's not ok to call you stupid. YOU don't go around calling people stupid, do you? They learn by watching how YOU treat people.)

If your child doesn't express remorse or apologize, that's ok - just tell them (gently) how it made you feel. And then leave it. 

I don't recommend forcing kids to apologize...it just teaches them to fake it. 

Allowing time and space for them to learn how to do a real apology will be a better lesson in the long run. (But it might mean you have to let some stuff go in the meantime...)

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