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How to Handle Put Downs From Close Relatives

by Alizah Scherr

Put downs from a close family member can be extremely hurtful and make you feel bad about yourself. According to a 2008 study published in the the "Family Journal," emotional closeness within the family is directly related to positive self-esteem and development among adolescents. (Reference 1, Page 64) Family is one of the most important parts of our lives and can have an impact on our overall emotional well being. There is a way to stop put downs from close family members.

Tell your family member to stop putting you down. Say it firmly and like you mean it. By wavering in any way you are sending the message that it is okay for them to do so. You do not have to raise your voice or yell but do keep your tone firm. This will let your family member know that this is a serious issue.

Tell your family member how it makes you feel when being put down. Explain that it hurts your feelings and that it makes you upset. Try to relate this feeling to a scenario that you know they have experienced as well. For example, say something like "remember when so and so called you that name and you ended up crying? That's how it feels when you say those things to me." By giving your family member this kind of comparison you will help to solidify in their mind how it truly makes you feel.

Give your family member some examples of specific negative statements or put downs that they have said to you. Sometimes people do not realize the frequency with which they say things, or even the fact that they have said these things at all. You do not want your family member to think that you are angry at only the most immediate comment that was made. Make it clear that this has been an ongoing pattern and that it needs to stop.

Leave the situation if your family member does not stop putting you down. You should not have to deal with put downs in any manner or form. If you have spoken with your family member about this but the put downs continue, simply leave the room, hang up the phone, or walk away. Make a statement letting your family member know that you aren't going to put up with their behavior and then stick to it.

Tip

  • If your family member continues to put you down and you can not walk away from or ignore the situation, seek out a mental health professional such as a family therapist who may be able to help the situation.

Warning

  • If your family member has become physically abusive or violent with you at any time, call the police and remove yourself from the situation. Physical violence is not to be tolerated or accepted.

About the Author

Alizah Scherr has worked as a professional school counselor in a public school system for more than five years. She has a master's degree in education and is certified as a counselor.

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