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Before I had kids, I knew that sometimes kids say hurtful things. In my mind, I thought when I had kids that whatever they would say would just fly off my back, but now that I am a parent, I know sometimes their words cut deep.

When your child says something hurtful to you, it can be hard to not respond. They may say something so hurtful that you want to cry. However, you have to remember you are an adult. You are teaching your child how to react by how you react. So, if you are lashing out and acting a fool because they said something hurtful, guess how they are going to learn to react when someone says something to them?

Instead of lashing out, do the following.

1. Understand where the comment came from.

Remember, kids, do not have fully developed brains. They are hearing things and pick them up and then repeating them. So, keep that in mind when your child says something hurtful.

2. Do not take it personally.

It’s hard, but don’t take it personally. You may be tempted to respond with something like, “I have done everything for you and you say that?” But do not do that. Typically, when a child says something mean, they are frustrated or feel powerless. Try to understand that and control your reaction.

3. Take a step back.

If you must, take a step back. Give yourself a moment to breathe in and breathe out. If you feel like you cannot control your emotions, do not allow your child to see you get so upset that you lose your cool. It’s best to walk away.

4. Express how your child made you feel.

Explain to your child how they made you feel. “When you said mommy is stupid and fat, it made me feel bad and hurt my feelings. I feel sad that you would say that, how would you feel if someone said that to you?”

5. Teach empathy.

Always, always be working on empathy. Label emotions when you notice them and point out how other people react to unkind words. Make sure that your child sees the cause and effect of cruel words.

6. Assure your child that you still love them.

After you have let them know how you feel, let them know you love them. They need to know that they haven’t ruined their relationship with you and that you are just upset.