When your kid says “I hate you!”
by, Patience Domowski, LCSW
When your kid says “I hate you!” and how to handle it…
1) Remember you’re not alone. Many kids say this at some point to their parents.
2) Recognize they usually don’t mean it. Knowing they don’t mean it and it’s not personal can help parents feel better about themselves and also not overreact. Instead of getting hurt or angry, recognize that your child is really trying to communicate something.
3) Realize it’s a lack of skill. They don’t know how to express their frustration properly. Teach them by modeling the correct feelings words, giving them space to calm down and later discussing with them how they could’ve handled that situation differently.
Usually when kids say “I hate you” or similar mean things like “I want a different family!”, “You’re the worst parent”, etc… they are really trying to say “I don’t like the answer you gave me”, “I’m upset I'm not getting what I want”, or “I’m mad/frustrated/etc”.
Instead of saying “We don’t say Hate” or “You don’t mean that” or “You’re hurting my feelings” etc try saying this instead: “Sounds like you’re frustrated. Can you say “I’m really mad!” or “I don’t like that!” Model it for your child and hopefully they will copy you in the moment and then remember next time how to handle it.
4) Teach empathy. Talk to them later about how they would feel if someone said “I hate you” to them when they really didn’t mean it. Even if they apologized later. Explain how it makes parents feel. Talk to the child about their feelings and teach them to identify some better coping strategies.
5) Train kids to change their thoughts from Negative to Positive. Instead of seeing the bad sides to situations, help the child identify the positive sides of the situation. Over time they will better be able to handle disappointments.