Do I Comfort My 6 Year Old After Scolding Her?

Dr. Laura,

Way back when I taught my oldest (6 years, kindergarten) to tell me if her feelings were hurt when she was crying. Now it's become a problem. Every time she cries she'll say "mommy you hurt my feelings..." This is usually when I'm getting on to her for doing something she shouldn't. So I don't want to teach her that she can't say she has hurt feelings but I don't know how to teach her that saying this all the time isn't going to get her a "get out of jail free card". She says it usually thinking that she'll be told it's okay and "I'm sorry" by the person who "hurt" her feelings.

And if she does cry and has her feelings hurt I always validate that and go from there. It's when she's gotten in trouble and cries that I don't know what to say when she responds "mommy you hurt my feelings". Ideas on wording for her or what to say?

How about giving her a hug and saying "You don't like what I'm saying, it makes you feel bad....I don't want to hurt your feelings, Honey...And what I'm saying is important. It isn't okay to xyz."

Let her cry for as long as she wants-- in your arms -- and then say, "I know it doesn't feel good when I tell you about this...I'm telling you because I can't let you do xyz....It's not okay...Let's talk about why." If she always does this, though, you may want to consider your tone with her. She sounds very sensitive, and sometimes kids like that don't need a stern voice, just a kind "Oops...I know you didn't mean to do that, because ...." As the Dalai Lama says, "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."


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I have seen amazing improvement in my *very* angry 17 year-old son after acknowledging that there was a reason he was so angry and acting out. We have had several heartfelt conversations and I have seen a real change in how he treats his younger brother, and how he treats me.