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kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent asks:
Q:

What do you do when your child tries out "I hate you" for the first time?

This morning, I gave my almost 5 year old son a time out in his room after he threw a fit when his visiting grandmother gave him a gift that he didn't like as much as the gift she gave my older son. I told him that when he was ready to apologize for his unacceptable behavior and to be gracious about the gift he'd been given that he could come back out to be with our family. As I walked away I heard him scream "I hate you!" (He also yelled that he hated his dad and our dog - neither of whom were in any way involved in the incident!)

I ignored his words and sure enough in about 3 minutes he came out with tears on his cheeks but completely calm. He apologized to his grandmother and spent time happily playing with his new toy. Neither of us said anything about the H word.

But all day I've been struggling with how to handle it. I want him to know how powerful and hurtful those words are but I don't want him to think that he "got to me" by using them.

Has anyone else ever had their child say "I hate you"? How did you handle it or what advice would you give me about how I should?

Thanks!
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Jul 14, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

I'm sorry that you had to experience your child saying they hate you.  Don't feel alone, it happens at some point to almost all parents.  Typically they say that for the most ridiculous reason, which is even more frustrating!!  It's great that you recognize that your childs' words weren't necessarily directed at you since they stated they not only hated you, but the dog too!!  Even if it isn't personal, it doesn't mean it hurts any less.  You have to remember that a 5 yr. old is still learning how to handle conflict, and they are going to do and say things they may not really mean or understand.

Like you, many parents who have been in the same situation, calmly handle it, then quietly feel sad and hurt by their child's words afterwards.  You handled it great by not blowing things out of proprotion and getting extremely upset or yelling.  It sounds like things turned out positive because your child was able to calm down and apologize for their words and actions relatively quickly.  The next step is to tell your child almost exactly what you wrote..........that saying they hate someone is very powerful and hurtful.  Explain how saying "I hate you" can make people feel.  Tell him that saying things like that is not an appropriate way of hadling his anger when he's around family or friends.  Explain that his friends are less likely to want to play with him if he says hurtful things like that on a regular basis.  Follow that by giving him other ways of coping with his anger.  

Hopefully after having this conversation with him you won't experience any repeat performances...............at least until his teenage years :)  wink wink.

Take Care,
Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000

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Louiseasl
Jul 14, 2009
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Best Answer!

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from a fellow member
Hello and first let me commend you on dealing with a "heart -tugging" situation beautifully!  It is so hard to parent, especially when you love your child but cannot believe they could so "easily push buttons" which resulted in hurt.  But, don't fear.  This is normal and due more to social maturity.  He obviously does not "hate" you, but disliked immensely the situation and did not quite have the right coping mechanisms in his repertoire of behaviors...yet.

You may wish to use play to help create scenarios for your son to learn some coping skills for any future awkward moments when he is jealous, upset or feeling that life is "unfair". Try and set up make-believe situations.  For example, he can be the parent and you can be the child.  Then pretend different circumstances (such as a sibling getting an extra privilege than he does not receive due to age differences) and how to react. You can show him positive and negative responses and discuss each.  Make sure and give him some useful phrases or feeling words, such as "That is not-fair and it makes me very unhappy" or "If "brother" is sleeping at a friends can we have a special game night at home?" in order to help him add to his knowledge base of how to work through times of feeling upset.

Also, use natural circumstances as teaching moments.  Perhaps you are in the mall and see siblings fight, a child act displeased and/or unkind, etc.  Discuss this with your son and then try and help him figure our more appropriate ways to respond.  

I also love the Faber and Mazlish series of books about sibling relationships.  I highly recommend, Siblings Without Rivalry.

Good luck!

Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of Signing Families
http://www.SigningFamilies.com

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Additional Answers (3)

LDSolutions
LDSolutions , Child Professional writes:
I would answer, "I'm so sorry you feel that way but I still love you."  This is important for your child to hear.  If he does feel bad because he blurted out an angry thought without thinking, you want to reassure him that you understand it was just an angry thought.  You don't want him to feel bad or think you hold a grudge.  A five year old is still very much in the here and now and doesn't quite think of actions in the future or even in the past.  Hug and kiss him and let him know that no matter what he says or feels you will always always always love him.  Model appropriate behavior on how to deal with anger.  This is how he will learn to express his anger.  For example when you get angry, you don't want to blow up.  Its a good idea to say, "I'm very upset right now.  I'm going to go into my room and have a little time out away from you so that I don't say anything right now that I will regret later."  Modeling the correct way to behave will set the stage for your child in the future.
> 60 days ago

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crazymama
crazymama writes:
ALL KIDS SAY I HATE YOU THAT'S A PART OF GROWING UP. I THINK YOU SHOULD JUST TELL HIM OR HER THAT IS WRONG TO SAY THAT AND DON'T WORRY HE OR HER REALLY LOVES YOU.
> 60 days ago

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sherri63
sherri63 writes:
A 5 year old child is old enough to try to use guilt to get what he or she wants.  He knew that his purpose was to inflict hurt upon you because he was not happy that you disciplined him.  You did exactly as you should have.  Those words were meant to spark a reaction of pain and you did not show it.  If you did say "Well, I love you anyway," he would have been rewarded with a reaction and it would have confirmed that he caused you to have an emotional response.  This technique of ignoring behaviors is called "planned ignoring."  There is a good chance that this behavior will stop if it has no gain.  Be sure that you do not try to manipulate his behavior with guilt or painful comments or this will become a "learned behavior."  Many parents do not realize that they teach this manipulating techniques to their children unintentionally.
Additionally, do not invalidate his feelings about the gift.  Explain to him that sometime people who love us give us gifts and they are often not what we would like.  But the fact that they made an effort to get it for us and give it to us shows that they love and care about us.  That is the real gift.  Telling him that he should "appreciate" something is not defining the behavior you want from him.  "Appreciation" is very abstract to a 5 year old child.

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