When Your Child Says “No One Cares About Me”

 

What This Situation Is Like for Parents

 

It is incredibly heartbreaking to hear that our child feels that no one cares about them. We want our children to loved and accepted and safe. 

Plus, we know that what they’re saying isn’t even true! We certainly we love our children with all of our hearts… but the more we tell them that, the more they pull away. So we feel helpless.

And we don’t want to see our children suffer. So we try so hard to cheer them up, but that either doesn’t work or it doesn’t last. And again, we feel helpless.

And there we are: Heartbroken with no idea how to make things better.

 

What This Situation Is Like for Children

 

Children are aware of the fact that they may get in more trouble than other kids… Or they know when their peers don’t really want to be around them. 

And they are told time and time again that they are making “choices.” So they assume that if they keep getting in trouble, there is something wrong with them… or that if they can’t make friends, there is something wrong with them.

And then they look for (and find) all of the evidence to support something is wrong with them.

And when someone else insists that people do care about them… that just offers more evidence that they are WRONG. 

They don’t want someone to insist that their feelings are wrong. They want someone to get it.

 

 

How It Usually Goes

When A Child Says “No One Cares About Me”

 

Scenario:

Leo has had a tough week. Early in the week, some boys in his class teasing Leo. Leo thought he had two friends in his class, but neither boy stood up for him when he was being picked on. When his dad talked to him about the situation, Leo told him how lonely he felt.

 

Leo: No one cares about me. 

Dad: That’s not true! You just had friends over last weekend!

Leo: Yeah but they only came because their parents made them.

Dad: That’s silly. Why would they do that? They could just tell their parents no.

Leo: No they can’t… They have to do what their parents say.

Dad: Leo, Mom loves you. I love you. I care about you. 

Leo: But you don’t count.

Dad: Well that stinks.

Leo: Dad… Everyone is mean to me.

Dad: Well I personally know that Jonah cares about you. He asks you to go to his house. And he shows you his rock collection! He wouldn’t do that for just anyone.

Leo: He shows it to everyone, Dad. Just stop. Leave me alone.

Dad: What about Toby?

Leo: Dad, he doesn’t like me either. Just stop. Leave me alone.

 

 

A More Effective Way to Respond When

When A Child Says “No One Cares About Me”

 

Scenario:

Leo has had a tough week. Early in the week, some boys in his class teasing Leo. Leo thought he had two friends in his class, but neither boy stood up for him when he was being picked on. When his dad talked to him about the situation, Leo told him how lonely he felt.

 

Leo: No one cares about me. 

Dad: What makes you say that?

Leo: Those boys were so mean to me. And no one stood up for me.

 

CALM

Leo’s dad feels awful that his son is going through this experience, and he wants to “fix” it right away.

He also knows that if he doesn’t stay with Leo in his wold, Leo will shut down and he won’t be able to help him. He focuses on listening to Leo and is able to stay calm and show Leo how to handle big emotions. 

 

Dad (slows down his tone to stay calm and show Leo that he isn’tanxious): Wow, Leo. That must have been hard.

Leo: Yeah. I wanted to yell at all of them. And tell them how much I hate them.

Dad: I bet. Because they were being mean and you felt like there was nothing you could do.

Leo: There WAS nothing I could do, Dad.

Dad stays silent.

Leo starts to cry.

Dad (softly): I know that is so tough, bud. It stinks to feel like no one has your back.

Leo: Right. No one does.

Dad: Has it felt like that before?

 

CONNECT

Even though Leo’s dad would love to tell him about all of the people who care about him, he knows that would only make Leo fell misunderstood.

Instead, he asks questions to try to truly understand Leo’s experience from his perspective. 

 

Leo: So many times.

Dad: At home too?

Leo: Yeah, sometimes you and mom yell at me. And I feel like I can’t do anything right.

Dad. Wow, Leo, that is really hard. (He stays silent for a few minutes. When he senses that Leo is calming down:) Leo?

Leo: Yeah?

Dad: Why do you think Jonah asks to come over here sometimes?

Leo: We like hanging out together.

Dad (with a curious tone): Is it possible that he cares about you? 

Leo: I guess so.

Dad: Is there anyone else that might care about you? 

Leo: Well, I guess there is Toby too. We play together.

Dad: I know it’s hard when people are mean to you. I think sometimes we have to remember that the whole world doesn’t hate us just because some people are mean.

Leo: Yeah, that’s true….Dad, can we do something else now?

Dad (laughs): Sure.

 

CORRECT

Leo’s dad help him think in a new way by helping him release Yuck first (so that he can think more rationally).

Then he helps Leo reconsider his statement that no one cares about him by asking questions with curiosity so that Leo can see a different perspective for himself.

 

 

How to Make In-the-Moment Parenting Work

 

Though Leo’s dad used Calm, Connect, Correct, the “proactive deposits” discussed in the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If your child is says “no one cares about me,” remember:

 

Depositing into CALM

Leo’s dad will not be able to stay calm if

a.) his own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low (if he feels like he let his son down because he couldn’t “protect” him)

b.) he has the expectation that Leo will always go through life happy

When he makes sure his own needs are met and sets realistic expectations PROACTIVELY, Leo’s dad is more likely to be able to stay calm.

See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap for help meeting your needs and setting expectations proactively so you can stay calm.

 

Depositing into CONNECT

Leo’s dad will be able to connect if

a.) he respects that all behavior has a reason and

b.) he understands those reasons (in this case, that Leo will feel better about himself when his dad respects him and lets HIM figure out solutions… rather than trying to “fix” him).

When he becomes comfortable with the reasons behind behavior PROACTIVELY, he will be able to connect more effectively.

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn the reasons for children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively.

 

Depositing into CORRECT

Leo’s dad will be able to correct behavior by offering a tool if

a.) He has demonstrated consistently in the past that he will listen to Leo… and also help him see that his reality is not necessarily true.

b.) He has made enough deposits into Leo’s emotional needs that asking him to consider another perspective doesn’t make him shut down.

When he demonstrates that she means what he says and when he makes deposits into Leo’s emotional needs PROACTIVELY, he will be able to correct Leo’s behavior more effectively.

See Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap  to learn more about improving your influence so you can correct behavior.