#WellnessWednesday Tip: Coping with negative thoughts about your kids

I have a distinct memory of an awful day when my older son was two months old. It was 90+ degrees and humid, and he refused to nap. I sat with him outside on the balcony of my apartment, cradling him in my arms as he wailed inconsolably. Exhausted and distracted, I found myself daydreaming about throwing him off the balcony.

Immediately, a rush of intense guilt and shame overtook me. How could I even think about harming my son? I mean, I loved him like crazy, and the thought of something bad ever happening to him made me sick to my stomach.

I’ve now talked to a large number of moms of infants, many (if not all) of whom have similar stories to mine—of at times reaching a breaking point with their kids and fantasizing about getting out somehow (I’ve heard everything, from leaving the baby on someone else’s doorstep to selling the baby on EBay).

What I’ve come to understand about myself—and now share with moms—is that thinking about chucking my son out the window did not mean I was actually going to do it, nor did it mean that I was a monster. It simply meant that I was exhausted and in desperate need of relief.

Moms, you need to remember that it is perfectly normal to have these negative thoughts about your kids from time to time. Thinking about—say—throwing your kid off a balcony is NOT the same thing as actually doing it. Instead of responding to these thoughts with guilt or shame, why not view these thoughts as a signal that you need a break, and should look for appropriate help and support?

Remember: having negative thoughts about your kids from time to time does not make you a monster, it just makes you human. Use these thoughts as cues to seek help for yourself. And of course, if these thoughts are persistent, consider seeing a mental health professional to help you cope.

Examples of thoughts like this? Please share in the “comments” section below.

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I’m Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco, Ph.D., aka DrCBTMom. DrCBTMom.com combines the expert advice of a self-help book with the warmth and readability of a mommy blog.
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