Weekly Wrap-Up : What do you do when your child says “I hate you”?

The weekly Wrap-Up is the place where we gather comments on Conversations With My Mother posts from different sources from all around the internet.

We’ve received some really interesting and insightful comments from our recent post:

What do you do when your child says “I hate you”?

I just smile, make eye contact and say ” I love you”. It’s hard to argue with that. ~ Barry via LinkedIn

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Very cool – not the “I hate you” part, but two of my favorite parenting blogs coming together! ~ Kristen Via Facebook

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That was awesome!!! (I may have screwed up with my son (5.5) but now I know what to do with daughter! TY! ~ Megan via Twitter

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I don’t take it seriously at all, because its not. the child barely knows what it means. I also teach them about what it means and why they shouldn’t say it to me or anyone, and then how they can appropriately express how they are feeling, then what we can do to help them feel better. I love the crappy parenting blog, it’s hilarious! 🙂 ~
Melissa via LinkedIn

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“Tell me more.” ~ Elaine via LinkedIn

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Re-frame her comment to describe what she really means. “I know that you’re upset that we can’t ……” It will help her learn other emotion words. ~ Kathy via LinkedIn

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Don’t take it personally. She is expressing her anger in a way she knows is powerful because her feelings are powerful. Best way to respond is with modelling words you want her to be able to say: “You are so angry with me right now.” If you know why add that, “You are so angry with me because I wanted you to turn off the TV.” No …buts. Just stick with statements. “Of course you are. I would be too if I were you.” Then, “Do you want another chance to turn it off or would you like me to do it?” ~ Bonnie via LinkedIn

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For many years I have been a pediatrician and have heard this question many times. I tell parents to tell the kid you’ll get over it, or say That’s ok. I also like the “I love you,” said with a smile. Now we are not ignoring his emotions, He in fact at that time feels he does not like you. If he has heard the work “Hate” before, he may temporarily hate you, as far as he understands hate. And remember hate and love are much the same thing, passionate expressions of relationship feelings. But don’t try to explain something so complex as love and hate to a 3 year old, Or perhaps not even a elementary school child. We all know it is all but impossible to get a group of adults to agree on a definition of love. Many seasoned philosophers have given up trying to define it! Additionally, the more personal time you give your kid when he says something like that the more he will use it as an AGM, Attention Getting Mechanism, so you will have to deal with it for many more years.
As doctor John Rosemond says, we spend too much time trying to play psychiatrist with out kids. Better to forget that “psychobabble”, his term, not mine, but a good one for parents to think about. I suspect parents have been hearing “I hate you” from their kids for for many centuries, and our society is not a lot better now than it was when the first settlers came here. ~
Dr. D. from ConversationsWithMyMother.com

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Guest questioner Amber Dusick, writer and illustrator of the highly successful blog Parenting. Illustrated with Crappy Pictures. Her first book, “Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures,” was recently released and is now available on Amazon.

Dr. Rutherford clearly states: “Manners are not innate; they have to be taught.” I think this explanation is more about the fact that a child might end up thinking the phrase “I hate you” can be thrown about easily in any scenario, and these are pretty legitimate exercises to try out. Personally I think I shouldn’t ignore the fact that my kid might be trying to tell me something important. Ultimately, I think it’s up to the parent whether to ignore this behavior or not, but I’d certainly give Mom the benefit of the doubt on this one. Thanks for the advice Molly & Mom! ~ Sara from ConversationsWithMyMother.com

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Dr.D,
Thanks so much for your response. I agree that 3 year olds are famous for saying things like “I hate you” or “I don’t like you” to their parents in their early attempts to express their feelings. I think that telling a child to get over it will possibly stop the kid from saying it again, but won’t necessarily deal with their clumsy attempts at putting their feelings into words. From my point of view, seeing adults with this problem, helping put feelings into words is the name of the game. It helps people from acting out feelings that can get them into trouble in their youth as well as adulthood. So, in the short run I agree with you, but in the long run, I think that people need more help with expressing themselves. ~
Dr. Susan Rutherford, (aka “MOM”) on ConversationsWithMyMother.com

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Thanks for your reply. We really are not far apart. A short discussion about feelings will not hurt, as long as it does not become an AGM. Hate is such a strong, awful word and I would wonder where a 3 year old heard it. I suspect he is watching TV (any is probably too much at this age) or has “friends” at day care who use it. As a parent, I would look for the source and make some changes.
Again, thank you for allowing a “Second opinion”. I would also like to call you attention to my parenting books, “Messengers in Denim” was released in 2010, and “Tools for Effective Parenting” will be out later this summer ~
Dr. D. from ConversationsWithMyMother.com

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Here’s what I did. What do you think? http://geniusinchildren.org/2013/01/03/in-search-of-authority/
(interesting comments, too.) ~
Rick from LinkedIn

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That’s fine; I still love you, so you can come back for hugs + a talk when you luv me again.” ~
Mandie via Twitter

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Personally I feel that that’s too young of an age to be exploring and labeling feelings. Instead, I would draw up the boundaries, gently and without too much emotion myself, by saying we don’t use that word in our house. Which, funny enough, is what mom told us when liver was served growing up! ~ Kathy on ConversationsWithMyMother.com

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Tough one, their is a serious disconnect between the parent and the child, obviously this may be caused by a variety of reasons.

Possible reasons may be lack of attention, not understanding his / her point of view, rules the parent may have outlined that the kid does not understand, but lastly each child is unique and so his / her reasons for uttering such a sentence will be different, the parent will have to spend time with the kid to really understand the underlying causes for the why such a sentence was used by the kid. ~ Basudev via LinkedIn

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When my kids told me they hated me I’d say, “I am your mom I love you unconditionally and my decisions reflect that. You don’t have to like me or my decisions.” ~ Ruth via LinkedIn

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I would say, ” You must be very angry to use a word like hate.” I would try to use reflective listening to find out what was behind the outburst. After affirming the strong feeling, I would give the child a lesson in how to express such an intense feeling in a more acceptable way. Example: “I am very very angry. ” ~ Leva via LinkedIn

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Children see, children do and children hear and children repeat so I’d be wondering where those words have been learned and make a note to follow up with some conversation about appropriate words at a later time. My initial response is always to notice what event has preceeded this statement and reflect back. If you’re at the park and have said it is time to leave and your child comes out with “I hate you” I’d reflect the cause back using facial expressions ” you are upset because we have to leave the park so you are angry with mummy and that is OK! You are disappointed. But it’s not OK to say you hate me. You are angry and disappointed and I’m sorry about that but it is time for us to leave. We will come back another day / go to ……. another time … and don’t forget, I always love you “. Follow up at another time when emotion is calm with a discussion about mean words and kind words. Disappointment and how to express it etc. ~ Gloria via LinkedIn

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I’d say, “well, that’s not a nice thing to say because I love you and always will.” ~ Barb via LinkedIn

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Just a quick after thought. I would be very careful not to use the word hate myself! ~ Elva via LinkedIn

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I would not say much. In that moment I would embrace my child with a hug to reassure my love for them. Later on before the day ends ask questions to seek why my child feels that he/she hate me. ~ Ngozi via LinkedIn

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It should be remembered that this happens not because there is bad parenting going on. Not at all – that your child is learning to express his feelings is a good thing. He just needs some guidance about the words he uses now, and that will hold him in good stead as he grows older. While telling your child that you love him is fine, this is not the actual issue at hand – it’s about the kid learning to express himself. He doesn’t even realize what the word “hate” means. ~ Dr. Susan Rutherford (aka “MOM”) from ConversationsWithMyMother.com

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