Most parents have been on the receiving end of their kid’s emotions and hurtful words, but what should you do when your kid says they hate you?
It’s par for the course in parenthood, but how you respond in those situations can help your child to learn how to better express themselves and regulate their emotions.
I imagine you are here because you just had a horrible parenting experience with your kid and you are feeling pretty crappy right now. I’ve been there.
My oldest is a sweet, empathetic girl who told me she hated me just once in her 10 years. However, my 5-year old is too smart for her years and can be incredibly manipulative at times. She is sometimes relentless with her anger when she is frustrated and I’m often the one on the receiving end of it. Lucky me.
“I hate you.”
“I wish I had a different Mom.”
“You should go to Heaven.”
“I wish it was just Dad.”
“Dad is the only one I’ll listen to.”
“You are the worst Mom ever.”
It stings just typing that. You know what though? I’m a badass Mom who isn’t going to respond to nonsense from an angry 5-year old especially when it is her emotions talking because she feels out of control and is unable to communicate effectively.
Some things to do when your kid says they hate you
Less is more when it comes to handling the dreaded “I hate you” from your kids.
Reassure them that you love them no matter how they feel
This is the most important tip. When my daughter is spinning out of control, she needs a “home” to land on. I am that home.
You are that home for your child. Reassuring them that you love them no matter how they feel about you and tell them that nothing they do is ever going to change that.
Never respond in anger
It’s your job to help them work through emotions. Don’t punish them for being a kid that doesn’t know how to do that.
When your kid says they hate you, it’s probably because they don’t know how to communicate how they are feeling.
Talk it out when everyone is calm
Sometimes just asking open-ended questions and leading your kiddo to the explain why they are feeling the way that they are feeling is the best way to get a dialogue started especially in the case of kids under 8 years old.
Waiting to talk it out helps kids to work through anger and come to a point where they can be reasonable and attentive to the things that you are saying.
The key is to wait. I find a little pleasure in sitting silently while my kids are freaking the hell out throwing a tantrum in time-out. My silence makes it even worse for them somehow.
Acknowledge the reason (and emotion) behind the actions
I’ve always achieved the appropriate response from my child after helping her to understand the why behind her emotions. She is growing and learning to communicate her feeling more appropriately.
Acknowledging that there is a reason behind the actions helps both of you in the situation. Kids will learn that communication helps to better solve problems and parents will remember that their child is not simply “acting out”, but needing help with working through how they are feeling.
The “I hate you” stage happens to everyone and there are many parents who respond appropriately and some that I don’t agree with.
Trying to bend a child to your will without validating their emotions is going to cause resentment to build as they grow. I firmly believe in validating a kid’s feelings and guiding them through life so that they are able to cope and thrive as an adult.
A hug goes a long way
Giving hugs creates an unspoken safe space for kids to calm down and work through their heavy emotions. Once a child is calm, you can talk about behavior and communication. The key is that they must be calm first in order to receive what you are saying. Hugs have been shown to effectively calm a child.
Dish out appropriate consequences when necessary
When you are feeling incredibly emotional, what kind of responses best get through to you? Actions and hurtful words from kids are often misplaced emotional outbursts that they are having trouble communicating.
The best response in this situation is often one without acknowledgement and understanding versus one with consequences.
I’m raising my kids to be good humans that make good decisions and that means teaching them about grace and kindness while also showing them real consequences that need to be endured and rewards received through hard work.
Spanking should never be a response
I don’t agree with spanking because responding to anger with a violent act is only going to perpetuate anger even if the spanking is well intended and done without “violence” in mind. Hitting is hitting.
To me, spanking is more of an authoritative force into compliance. I want my children to chose to be good not out of fear, but because they understand the impact of the decisions they make and the consequences that will result.
Be the Calm in their Storm
In my opinion, it’s never okay to tell your kid to get a new parent when they are feeling such big feelings in the first place. It’s our job as parents to navigate the hard emotions and support our children. They are kids. They just aren’t going to respond appropriately.
Most of the time they are going to be little jerks when they are feeling all the feels that they can handle. We, the adults, can control our response and get to the bottom of the issue because, well, we are freaking adults and that’s what we should do.
Less is more when it comes to responding to angry kids. Keep your responses short and sweet to get the message across.
Some appropriate responses to use when your kid says they hate you
- “I still love you.”
- “I have enough love for the both of us then.”
- “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I love you anyway.”
- “You don’t hate me. You just don’t like what I’m telling you right now. That’s okay.”
- “I’m sorry that you feel that way.”
- “I’m still your Mom anyway.”
- “That hurts my feelings.”
- “We will talk when you are calm.”
There are many ways that you can respond to your angry kid, but just make sure to respond with a balance of compassion and guidance.
They are crazy. They’ve got a lot of big feelings that are happening in their little bodies. Remember that it’s your job to help get them through this. I can’t wait for the teenage years if this is what 5 looks like.
This post was originally published at Our Family Code on April 3, 2018.