Resentment can be a rather toxic emotion—both for the person stuck in a swirl of resentment and for the person on the other side of it. When our child is harboring resentment about something that might have happened or is feeling resentful toward us—it can be hard to take, but there are ways of coping and helping our child through a tough emotional time.
What might make a child feel resentful? Well, if a child feels slighted or as if he or she hasn’t gotten a fair share of something, or he might be upset over something that has happened that felt completely out of his control. We’ve all been there, I think, feeling resentful because life just didn’t go the way we thought it should. For many of us, it takes time for us to be able to let go of resentful feelings—depending on how tightly we may be clinging.
Don’t take it personally when a child directs her resentment toward you. While you may have been the one who made the decisions that led to the circumstances that are fueling the resentment, your feeling guilty is not going to help matters at all. In order for all of us to learn how to take ownership of our own feelings (resentment included), we need to NOT have other people take it on. So, try to separate your child’s feelings from your own. This way you can share your empathy and understanding, and help her to work through letting go of the resentment, without letting your own feelings of guilt or whatever get in the way.
Like all of us, if a child can learn to think optimistically and see that there may be a reason or a “good side” to why things happened the way they did. It can just take time for this to all sink in. Learning to let go of resentment and other negative feelings can take time, but it can be learned. It helps if we, as parents, have learned how to manage our own resentful feelings too, before we help our children cope with theirs.