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The Bright Side of Bad Behavior

Being Mean to Mommy

The bad behavior: My 4-year-old, Connor, goes to preschool three mornings a week. Most days when I pick him up, it's a happy reunion. Lately, though, he seems less than thrilled with my company. "How was your morning with your friends?" I asked as we walked to the car one day. "Did you have a good time?"

"It was fun," my normally affectionate little boy conceded, then turned on me to accuse, "It was fun until you came along and wrecked it."

Ouch.

The bright side: Rejection from your child can feel like an arrow through the heart. But it takes a significant amount of security for your preschooler to so blatantly push you away to see the kind of response he gets. He's sure you love him, and he's testing that attachment to see how far he can stretch it.

How to handle it: Don't overreact. Hurt as you may be, it won't help if your preschooler sees you reduced to tears or very angry because of his cold words. Don't try to make him take them back or even apologize for what he's said. Instead, simply tell your child that you're sorry he feels angry at you right now because you love him and always like spending time with him. Then let it drop. Your child will be reassured that you love him no matter what, and you'll have avoided an emotional showdown.

And that's definitely a plus, since you'll need that energy to keep reminding yourself why it's good that he's a little bit bad now and then.

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