What to do when your child says, “I hate you.” How do you react to those words? Do you handle them well or are you one of those that take it too personally.
Those dreaded three words, I HATE YOU. No parent wants to hear these words. It is like putting a dagger to the heart. Do words pierce through your body? If they do, then these are the words that do.
No wound will be equal to it. No matter how much ever you try to avoid it, in reality at some point of time you will hear these words. And it will feel like as if your world has torn apart. A pain that only another injured parent can understand.
Please don’t think I’m being dramatic with my words. Ask any parent that has gone through it. They will vouch for these feelings.
After all, we are the ones that pick up mess after them, bathe them, clean them up, listen to their grievances, cook healthy food, take them to soccer practice, and the list goes on and on. And all you get in return is an “I hate you.” I HATE YOU!! Yes those evil, mean, dreaded three words.
Do you deserve it. No, surely you don’t deserve any of that. You deserve better than that.
The first time when my eldest daughter said “I don’t really like you”, I was so hurt. I felt so sad that I almost felt worthless. My instant reaction was not being angry or yelling at her. Rather I was totally broken And couldn’t understand my feelings. It was a moment of failure for me. Failure of being a parent. I felt like a failure of being a responsible adult. Failure to win the affection of a small child.
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The emotions were too gigantic. I had read about it before and I believed I will be able to handle it better. But alas, that wasn’t the case.. the feelings hit me so hard that even my husband noticed them. When he returned from office he saw my sullen face and asked me what’s wrong. I couldn’t get myself to actually articulated what was really bothering me and simply replied with a “nothing”.
But the very next morning when she woke up and said “I love you mama” I was confused more than I was relieved. I was like, “whoa, what just happened.” Was I feeling so very bad for all this? Were all my emotions simply my hallucinations?
Few more, “I wish I was born to someone else” and “I hate you”s later I was given a good dose of vaccinations. I was pretty much immune to the negative feelings that stemmed from the words.
I started separating the words from the child. It was much easier to deal with the words when I saw them as they were. Just WORDS. EMPTY WORDS without any hatred or meaning behind them.
The younger the child, it will be more likely that they don’t mean anything. They are just repeating what they must have heard from others.
It will most likely be followed by your refusal to give them chocolate cookie before bed time. Or trying to put them to bed on a weeknight when they still want to watch the cartoons.
But please remember you will only get hurt as much you allow yourself to. When you start separating your child’s words from your child, you will feel less hurt. You will be able to handle the situation better.
Trust me when I say that it does get better over time. First time is the most hardest. Eventually you learn to deal with it. But if you’re unable to handle it over time, then you are not only losing your peace of mind but also losing out on bonding with your kid. You might carry unnecessary resentment towards your child which is not healthy.
When your child says I hate you, you can respond by either saying,
“Oh, how could you, after all I have done for you.”
“How could you say I hate you when I do so much for you.”
“You are so mean that you say like that.”
You have the choice to respond by saying,
“Oh I see, you look really mad and angry. Can mama help you with anything?”
“Those are not nice words, but I get it you are angry about something. Would you like to share your feelings with me?”
With younger kids it is highly likely that they will immediately respond and tell you what exactly is bothering them. They will tell you how badly they want to have that ice cream. You can simply reason with them that it is not the right time to eat an ice cream in the middle of flu and you promise to get them their ice cream as soon as the doc gives permission.
Or they might want to simply like to play past bed time. They could simply be trivial things that might trigger their anger. When instead of ignoring you deal with it positively, you might be able to help them better.
When you tell them calmly and coolly they will invariably listen to you. And give you much better response. They will be better able to address their anger towards what is making them angry rather than taking that anger out on you.
It will be difficult at first to do this when your child is screaming “I hate you.” But as you keep practicing and keep your calm, you will be able to handle it better and help your child handle his anger better. In the long run you will be grateful that you have guided your child in a positive way.
But it can be a tricky question if it is an older child. If it is the teenager who says I hate you, your child might actually mean it. Not like really mean it but actually know it.
What I mean to say is that, they actually know the meaning of hate. And it could be even more difficult for you to accept it. Knowing fully well that your teenage child exactly knows what it means to “hate” and exactly knows the feelings of “hurt”, might make it difficult for you to accept their words.
If you ask them (like you happily did with your toddler) what is making them angry at the heat of the moment, please be rest assured that it is never going to work out. Your teenager will never be able to respond like your toddler. The best way to handle a teenager or an older child is to let the moment pass.
Give them their space. When both of you are at loggerheads, it is never a good idea to be confrontational. When your teenage child says “I hate you”, it is better you leave that place. Go for a walk or to your bedroom to relax. Just walk away from that place.
But PLEASE REMEMBER that while you walk out, tell your child that you will have a talk when things are cool.
When you have regained your composure and your child seems to be in a better mood, talk to them. Tell them it is never cool to hurt someone with mean words. That it is acceptable to use such words with their parents.
Assure them that you are on their side no matter what happens and you love them. You have make them comfortable by showing them compassion for their meanness.
Be sympathetic towards their raging hormones and remember your childhood. Your teenager will be more confused and angry than you can imagine it. All of us undergo that stage. But we outgrow and mature into responsible human beings.
Let go of the “words” and know that your child still needs you no matter how old he gets. If you are by their side no matter what happens, you will help them shape into a responsible adults.
Until Next Time,