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"I hate you!"

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Recently, my dd has started announcing this, mostly to me. She's not quite four, and has recently started playing with the neighbours (they're really, really awesome) on her own. The only thing I can come up with is that she hears this there, 'cause she's certainly never heard it at our house (they have several children, ranging in age from 22-7, and some of them use more "adult" language)! I don't so much care that she's being exposed to this, but I *do* care that she's telling me that she hates me! I do think she's just trying it out, to see what will happen, and also because I don't think she actually quite grasps the concept of hating someone. But, it still stings! 

I've told her that it hurts my feelings when she says things like that, that it's fine to dislike me, or not like something I'm doing, and that she's free to tell me when she's unhappy with me/something. I've also told her things like, "That's really sad. I love *you* though."

And then, embarrassed to admit it, when she's announced that she hates me and then three seconds later wants help with something or wants to snuggle, I have told her that I don't want to be with her when she says hurtful things to me. I always end up helping her, or sitting with her, or whatever, but it takes me a few minutes, sometimes, to reset myself. 

So, any tips or suggestions for getting her through this phase a little faster? Or, ideas to handle it better? Is there something I'm missing here? 

post #2 of 5
My dd said this to me once when she was five and angry. I said that was fine and gave no other reaction and it hasn't happened again, she is ten now. She has tried many things she learned from daycare then school friends and I have found than not giving a reaction or giving a short bored one works best.
post #3 of 5

I do think it's good to be honest with our kids about the effects of their choices on us. That said, my tactic with similar language was not to give it power in our home in the moment it was spoken. When it happens I'd shrug it off, ignore it, give it no power. Because I know my daughter adores me. Not to say I can't model different language, that can be one of our best tools. 

Increase talking about words, what they mean, what hate means, and how words do influence our world and the perceptions others make of us. Just not in the moment when  feeling reactionary. 

I don't know that I always did everything right, but I do feel like this has been effective now that my girls are older and have long cemented the idea that reaction seeking language doesn't have a place in our home, and that logical, thought out reasoning is a much, much more effective way to get my attention. 

I'm sure there are a lot of other wonderful ideas out there too, take what feels best for you- trust yourself.  

post #4 of 5

My DD used to say this. I tried telling her it hurt my feelings, that it wasnt very nice, that hate is a strong word, etc. None of that worked. What worked was misunderstanding her. She would say I hate you. I would say, Yes I know you hurt me. She would say NO I HATE YOU, and  I would say "Yes I know you have me." Everytime she said it I would pretend I heard something different, and now its been almost a year since she has told me that she hates me. 

post #5 of 5

DD (5) has recently done some of this. "I hate you! Find a new kid! Hmmph!". One day, she packed up to find another family. I sat there amazed. Here I am this unconditional parent...there really "should" be no reason for that! But, alas, as it turned out, she was very disappointed in me that I snatched a pencil from her hand when she was mindlessly digging it into my leg. I sat with her, explored her sack of vagabond goods with her, and then she was able to tell me about her feelings. When I said "when the pencil was hurting my leg and I grabbed it, you felt like I didn't trust you, that maybe I thought you were trying to hurt me instead of not really thinking about it" she just let out a breath and said "yeah!", and then "I'm sorry, mom. I love you mom!". She ended up crying about it on and off for hours! On one hand, I was like "whew! I didn't screw up royally here!", but then on the other hand it was really, really hard for me to watch her in so much psychic pain over the thing. She grew up a little that day, I think...but this "I'm moving away" thing lasted a few more days, and she self-secluded and cried a bit every time, but then had terrible regrets and came to me as if to say "I can't believe I could be a jerk, mom! I totally don't like myself being that way!" She's learning to take responsibility for herself and her feelings, and she seems to be coming to this understanding on her own (I don't chastise or punish). I've had to reassure her that she's stuck with me for the rest of her life, that I made her on purpose, that I waited for so, so long for her, and she's asked for a whole lot of "why did you make me" stories that she just seems to relish...so I tell them again and again and they are really full of love. Luckily, we're past the "I hate you"s, but I'm sure there is another challenge around the corner!


I guess what it boils down to is that developmentally, it makes sense to act out a defense...I fear that you hate me, thus I will say I hate you. I fear that you will leave me, thus I will run away. I did not like the me that I was just now, so I fear that you also do not like me. 


In your situation, I might go with a reflective thing, such as "when you say you hate me, I think maybe there is something you are upset about and I wonder if I can help"...and then a follow up of "okay, cool! So, next time you are upset, do you think you could tell me you are upset? That hate word is one that feels pretty bad" I always think of giving the kiddo an example of how to approach her own experiences with "I hate you" that kids always say. If she can respond to a peer with the same compassion I show her, she'll be in good shape (I hope).

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