Handling comments

People may direct comments towards your child or you may overhear people making remarks. These remarks might be thoughtless and tactless, rather than deliberately rude (but still offensive or upsetting for you or your child). Comments can feel very insulting and hurtful. It might make you or your child feel upset or cross – and you might feel like crying or being angry or rude back to them.

So, what can you do to manage comments people make about your child’s appearance?

Walk away

If the comment seems to be a direct confrontation, it may be best just to walk away, particularly if you feel threatened or concerned. This can be powerful in itself – as it is telling the other person you are not going to bother to respond to their bad behaviour and they are not worth your time.

To put this in another way, if someone can be so unkind to make unpleasant comments to someone based on their appearance, there is little that can be said to change them. Walking away is the best response; it takes away their power to hurt you. You might still feel very upset or angry, and that’s natural – you might want to try talking to a friend or someone you trust to get support and offload your feelings.

Plan a response

You might decide that you want to respond to rude comments to let the person know you are unhappy.

Make an assertive and simple statement about their rudeness:

“I don’t think its very kind to be rude about my child, please stop”

“My child just has a scar. It happened a long time ago. There is no need to be rude.”  

Tell the person that the problem lies with them:

“It’s just a birthmark… it doesn’t bother us so don’t make such a fuss about it.”

or

“My child has Neurofibromatosis. He may look different but he can hear and what you said really hurts.”

Again, it’s useful to prepare in advance and to have a range of options to use. Depending on the age of your child you might want to talk to them about how you would both like to respond. What information is your child happy for you to share?

A quick effective comment is good, and it helps to avoid a discussion or even an argument.  However, look after yourself. You are not expected to find a way to manage every situation. Take it one step at a time. Some days will be better than other days. On good days you may feel like going to the park or shops and be confident in responding to other people.  

Reassuring self-talk

Handling comments from other people about your child is very upsetting, you might continue to think about it after it has happened and it can affect your mood. It is helpful to have some things you might say to yourself to help you manage comments from others. This can help you to think about the comments in a different way and that in turn can change the effect these comments have on your mood.

Think of things you might say to yourself to explain other people’s behaviour. And find something to give you more confidence and reassure you. This could be a short phrase or motto, for example:

“My child looks different and that’s ok”

“There is more to my child than how she looks”

“I’m so proud of my child for what he/she has overcome”

“We do not need to think about the opinions of unkind people”

“It’s ignorance”

“Some people are unkind to others because they are insecure about themselves – this says more about them than me or my child”

“It’s sad they aren’t focusing on their own child”

If you feel upset or angry speak to someone you feel comfortable with about this. Its normal to feel this way, but it’s important that you don’t become overwhelmed by unkind comments that stop you doing things and enjoying your life.

You might also like to look at our self-help on handling staring and handling questions.

Handling questions

Read

Handling staring

Read

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