Someone is screaming at my child.
“You are stupid.”
“Nobody loves you.”
“You don’t deserve this family.”
My child lay crumpled on the floor sobbing.
I want to shove this person away, and shout, “Don’t you dare hurt my child!”
But I can’t.
This bully is my child’s brain.
It can be normal for a child to doubt themselves on occasion or have a rare random disturbing thought. Every child goes through stressful life stages or events that contribute to negative thinking. Once the stress passes, those thoughts go away.
For some children , negative thoughts persist no matter the circumstances, and these thoughts interfere with living a fully functional life.
They are dark shadows clouding a child’s perspective, and they are negative, obsessive, and intrusive thoughts.
Sometimes the thoughts feel like their own and cycle through their mind constantly. For others, they feel as if there is another human or creature in their mind telling them these things. Other children hear voices or see creatures (auditory or visual hallucinations) shouting these negative messages to them.
While these negative thoughts may not reflect reality, they believe them.
This is real to them.
As a mom, my heart shatters that my child’s brain has become the enemy.
I feel helpless.
I wish this could be a post titled, “10 Easy Steps to Banish Negative Thinking.”
There are no easy steps.
I am trudging with my child through mud up to our knees, carrying 50 pound backpacks while blindfolded to a destination that holds no promise of eradicating intrusive thinking.
As a parent, I hold the key to guiding my child through these terrifying thoughts.
Before I tell you what you need to do at home, seek the help of professionals if your child suffers from persistent negative thinking that interferes with life.
A family therapist helps your child with coping skills and interventions to change the thought processes.
A neuro psychologist evaluates and gives psychological diagnoses.
A pediatrician or medical specialist orders testing to see if there is a medical reason causing intrusive thoughts, and gives referrals if needed by insurance.
A psychiatrist prescribes medications and monitors the affects of those medications alleviating the symptoms of mental illness.
While professionals are very important to helping your children with negative intrusive thoughts, your child is home most with you.
You are the most important influence in your child’s life.
While your child’s negative thoughts may be enormous and very real to them, you need to make the messages you send to your child as powerful.
Counterbalance the negative thoughts with positive messages.
I will be the voice of compassion, reason, and love for my child when they can’t do it themselves.
I will speak positive truth into my child.
Oh, this is not easy.
Children with intrusive thoughts may act out horribly. Their actions reflect the negative thinking.
They may lash out verbally because the negative thoughts make them believe you are their enemy.
They may destroy property because the negative thoughts about them being a bad child overwhelm them and they go into fight or flight mode.
They may refuse to do anything else but play video games because they want to zone out doing something that makes the thoughts go away.
I understand how challenging it is to be the voice of positivity when facing such challenging behavior. Continue being the light in your child’s dark world despite all the negativity the child throws at you.
Set boundaries for safety. Teach them how to do better next time. Understand this may take years of mucking about before they learn a better way.
The most important part of being that light for your child is forgiveness.
Forgive without expectations.
Let your child know you forgive them.
As a mother, my most important job is to unconditionally love my child no matter what.
I don’t need to vilify my children for their mistakes. My child with intrusive thinking is likely crucifying themselves for hurting me.
I am to love my children as God has loved me.
Grace and Love.
These are the boxing gloves I use to fight the bully in my child’s brain.
And give yourself grace and love because responding with unconditional love all the time is impossible.
You are a fallible human, but the best ally on your child’s team to overcome negative intrusive thoughts.
I stand at the door as my child lay sobbing.
“I ruin everything. It’s all my fault,” my child cries out in remorse of another rage where awful things were said and done by this child.
I stand at the door surveying the wreckage of my child’s bedroom caused by the rage. My heart hurts over the horrible things said to me.
I want to turn around and escape, but this is my child to love unconditionally.
Now, is not the time for lessons but for forgiveness.
I stoop down, crawl over the floor, and lay beside my child.
I stroke my child’s hair tenderly, and I say, “I love you no matter what mistakes you make. I forgive you.”
It’s not enough to cure my child of the effects of mental illness or an excuse for hurtful behavior, but it is an essential building block to helping our children fight the bully in their brains.
More Ideas Just for You
Intrusive negative thinking causes family life to be incredibly stressful. I get it. Read 101 Ideas for Joy In Minutes for simple ideas to bring happiness into your home.