My child isn’t giving me a hard time. My child is having a hard time.

Sometimes, when my son’s behaviour is going off track, I find it helpful to remind myself that he isn’t intentionally giving me a hard time – he’s having a hard time himself.
I particularly need this reminder when I’m feeling low on resources (e.g. I’m tired, sick, stressed, or just needing a break), and when I’m already carrying my own emotional load.

I need to remind myself that he isn’t doing these things that I’m finding annoying, rude, ungrateful, disrespectful, or hurtful, on purpose. He doesn’t want to act in this way.


He’s acting in this way because he has big feelings in his body. He’s doing the best he can to manage them, but it’s not easy. He’s having a hard time, and he needs my help.

💖 He needs me to slow down and listen.

💖 He needs me to stay calm and loving.

💖 He needs me to pour in warmth and affection.

💖 He needs my acceptance and kindness.

💖 He needs my understanding and empathy.

💖 He needs to know that I’m here for him.

💖 He needs to know that his feelings are welcome.

I want to give my son the message, through my words, tone of voice, facial expression, and body language, that my love for him is unconditional; that he doesn’t need to be or do anything for me to love him.

Some days, it’s a tall order! But I keep endeavouring to give him the love, support and reassurance that he’s needing when things get tough for him, even when he’s acting in ways that trigger my discomfort.

And I find that this simple and gentle reminder to myself can help to put me in the best frame of mind to respond to him in a way that aligns with my loving intentions.

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