Parenting can be tough.

Last week, my 6 year old came home from school and told me that a child in her class wrote “I hate you (name)” on the whiteboard for everyone to see.  She was very upset for her friend who’s name was on that whiteboard, almost in tears as we talked about how that must have made her feel.  It was interesting timing, given that the Children’s Message at church the day before was about how you need to be careful what you say or write, because you cannot ever UNsay or UNwrite it.

Mrs. R., the director of Children’s Ed at church, was the one who spoke with the children on Sunday.  She used a really great tool to help illustrate to the children what words can do once said or what words can mean once written.  She had one child squeeze out quite a bit of toothpaste onto a paper, and then asked another child to please put the toothpaste back in.  He kind of looked at her funny and said, “I can’t.”  Mrs. R. talked with the children about how our words, both written and spoken, can’t be undone once said, and even if we forgive someone, it’s hard to forget when unkind things are said to us.

When my daughter came home to share what had happened last week, we talked about what Mrs. R said in church, and about the toothpaste.  I honestly thought she understood. She really seemed to understand.

Until this morning, when I went to put something in her backpack for school and found this written in a notebook in her bag.

I asked her why she wrote this, and while she did make a few attempts to say that the child she wrote about really “made her mad” she had no answer for why she would write such a thing, especially knowing how it made her other friend feel.  I am not sure, and she couldn’t remember, WHEN it was she wrote this.  So perhaps she wrote it a long time ago, but maybe she wrote it this week.  I don’t know.  Would it make a difference?

What do you DO in situations like this?  I made her sit down and write I will not write mean things over and over and over again while I thought for a bit and tried to figure out what to say.  I’m still struggling with this, as is my husband.  We’re in new parenting territory and not sure what to say.  If you have a suggestion, please feel free to share.

How do you help your child understand what the impact of things like this are/can be?

Jenilee from Six in the Nest had a tough parenting situation this weekend too.  Check her story out!

About the author: I’m a 30-something mom to three, brand ambassador. content creator, social media maven, blogger extraordinaire, earth lover, butcher, baker, candlestick maker (or something along those lines) – love word games, crafting, cake decorating or shooting pictures.

9 comments… add one
  • It really stinks being the parent and seeing your child upset for any reason. It is even worse when you have to have the "talk" with your child about how not all people are nice people. There will always be people who say and do hurtful things and when your child experiences this in any fashion, it takes away their innocence, which is saddening as a parent. I try to teach my children that hurting someone else won't make you feel better even if it might feel good for a moment. What WILL make you feel better is knowing you're doing the right thing, whether that be telling a teacher if you see something hurtful or wrong, or making someone feel better who is sad. We tell them it takes a STRONG and powerful person to do the right thing, even if they're the only one doing it (example: saying something is mean or wrong even if other kids are quiet or laughing with the bully) HUGS!
  • Yes, parenting is the most difficult job in the world...and the only one that doesn't require any pre-training or licensing. :) I agree with the comments are talking with her and addressing the problem. That is a very important step. And, as you say, you don't know if it was something she wrote a long time ago...or why. Perhaps just keep an eye on the situation and see if it happens again. Maybe you could have some kind of special "tea party" with several of your daughter's school friends...including the child she wrote the note to and the one who is her friend who was the target of the chalkboard abuse. I always try to find a picture book that addresses the problem...often when children become engaged in a story, they open up and talk about what is bothering them, especially if the main character is experiencing a similar problem. "Feelings" by Aliki and "I Feel Happy and Sad and Angry and Glad" by Mary Murphy are two that might help. And I LOVE the toothpaste example...I will definitely remember that and use it in my school programs. :) Best of luck with this situation, Brett...just keep letting her know you love her, no matter what!
  • I think that it takes kids a few times to really learn. Just taking the opportunity to talk about these situations will help. I'd tell her that even though someone else made her mad, it doesn't mean that her being mean will help. Two wrongs don't make a right. We deal with that a lot in our house, one kid will hit another, so the other will hit back.... not sure if it will ever end but we take each opportunity to try to explain that it isn't okay to do something mean, even if someone else did it to you first.
  • I've been in the same situation over the years too. No suggestions, but hugs and prayers for you.
  • I don't really have any advice. I want my son to stick up for himself but not be mean. It is hard to find that balance. I think even as adults we some time struggle with finding the balance.
  • I love that toothpaste example...stashing in the memory bank for later use.... I have no advice for you. Other than teach by example, with love and kindness. Good luck
  • It's so hard being a kid.. especially when you have the ones that want to be cruel. :( I think you did the right thing sitting her down to explain it.. maybe just keep dwelling on the fact of how her friend felt and that she would be doing the same.. two wrongs don't make a right. It's so hard though.
  • my kids are grown now an you did the right thing to talk about it with her,,,childhood is tuff too,,but they make it through an will hopefully learn from all things lessons in life
  • I would be in the same place you are (and I WILL be one day I am sure).... You're doing all the right things, I think. You acknowledged the issue instead of ignored it, talk about why it's wrong. You connected it to her real-world experiences to remind her how it feels (empathy). And then, yes, it's fair to make her write it out over and over just to ENGRAIN the right way in her mind. Some parts of parenting I think ARE just repetition, repetition... (I say nothing wrong with a wee bit of POSITIVE "brainwashing!" LOL). And... it probably won't happen overnight, but you're pointing her in the right direction... and I think morality has a sort of "muscle memory" - PRACTICING right actions, they soon become natural. And, I know not everyone will agree with me, but prayer - I think prayer changes things and can be a powerful parenting tool in protecting our children from the evils of this world! :) Keep at it, mama! :)

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