“I Hate You!”
There are so many reasons your child may utter these words loudly or under their breath to you. Maybe you didn’t get them the new toy they begged you for. Maybe you told them they couldn’t go to a friends house for dinner. Maybe they couldn’t promote to their next Taekwondo belt because they didn’t listen at home.
Regardless of why they say it, it’s not an easy phrase to take in, especially when it’s coming from your offspring. It’s only three words, but they have a lot of power and can break a parents heart.
Before we tell you how to handle this common phrase, it’s important to understand that this is NORMAL! As parents, we try to pride ourselves on having the most perfect little angels who never say mean things or act out.
We hate to break it to you, but kids are kids and they were put on this earth to test limits and push boundaries. They are learning emotions, how to handle them and have limited verbal abilities when this phrase is in peak usage. When they get older you’re going to be proud of these traits when they push their limits and become doctors, entrepreneurs and successful humans who will have kids that will utter these same words to them (payback, baby!).
So when it does come time (or if that time is now) that they decide to exercise their vocabulary and start using this phrase, how should you react?
Here are some healthy ways you can respond to this phrase:
- I’m sorry you feel that way, but I still love you.
- That hurts my feelings when you say that. Can you please tell me what you don’t like in a nicer way? This should be followed by an example of a nice way to say something negative.
- I understand you’re not happy, but those are not the words I would choose to express those feelings. Can you try again?
- You’re allowed to express those feelings, however you are still not able to (INSERT WHY THEY SAID THEY HATED YOU).
- You might not “like” me right now, but I still love you.
- Do you really hate me or are you angry with me? Do you know what hate means? This is a great opportunity to teach them the difference and why one is okay and the other is not.
The most important aspect of handling this phrase as a parent is your reaction. If you react by yelling or acting immaturely you are sending the message to your child that this behavior is acceptable. Without crying, take a deep breath and respond to your child with one of the above phrases to open dialogue about why they reacted this way and used those words.
TKD Tip: Don’t beat yourself up when you hear these words. Decide with your spouse how you want to handle this phrase and be consistent in how you’re reacting to them.
Parent/Child Activity: Broaden your child’s vocabulary by making flash cards with them about different emotions and appropriate uses for those emotions. Ask them to tell you situations when each would be appropriate.