In general, you love your kid. You are their biggest fan and strongest supporter. You may even consider them an angel who could do no wrong. Until that one day when everything they do is getting you angry. They almost appear to be trying to make you mad. It is easy to feel like every action they take is intentional, but take a deep breath and step back for a second. How do you act when you have had a hard day? How do you respond when it feels like nobody gets you and you are struggling to be heard? How old are you? Now, how old is your kid?

When our children are doing something wrong, we tend to treat them the same way we would an adult. We tell them to stop acting out, to grow up, or to stop crying. Those aren’t helpful things to tell adults who are upset, and are even less helpful for kids. Kids are learning to identify feelings, and often aren’t given words for the big feelings they are experiencing. Instead they show us. Perhaps they had their first fight with a friend, but have never experienced the emotion of being upset at someone that they love. So they don’t know how to handle that new feeling and don’t know how to talk to you about it. Instead, they are throwing a tantrum and refusing to eat dinner. Consider what happens to you when you are upset, do you lose your appetite? You have had years of learning to identify that as a symptom of your emotions, your kid hasn’t had that time to learn.

Your kid isn’t trying to piss you off. They are just trying to understand a world that is brand new. So next time you feel so frustrated at your kid that you aren’t sure how you will respond, step back and ask yourself if there is something that you aren’t aware of. Take a deep breath, now take another one, and hug your kid. Ask them about their day. Check to make sure they ate today (hanger is real). Find out if there is something that you need to learn about them, and give them the opportunity to share. I bet you will find that they aren’t trying to make you mad, they are just trying to cope with a brand new feeling and could use your help learning to name it.