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How To Respond When Your Child Says, “I Hate You.”

Nothing can feel more upsetting than hearing your child say, “I hate you.”

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But our job as parents is to understand why the words are being said. There is a feeling hidden behind such hurtful words. 

What exactly is the child trying to communicate with us?

I’ve had something very similar said to me. I get it, it’s upsetting when your child says hurtful things to you. 

But, let us remember that these words are usually a form of protest to a boundary or house rules like bedtime, request to stop playing, etc.

My son will say, “You are a bad mommy!” at such times.

My reaction? To pause and observe what seems to have triggered this response.

Usually what follows right after the statement reveals why he feels so upset, “You are a bad mommy because you don’t let me——“

So does one respond when the child says I hate you? Keep reading.

Related reading: How to deal with tantrums in a gentle parenting way.

how to respond when your child says I hate you


Say – I am not a bad mommy/ you do not hate me.

Then help him understand the emotion he is feeling at the moment, “ I understand you are very upset right now. This is hard for you.”

Followed by reiterating the limit and why we do it.

“You want to play more. But it is time for bed. You need to sleep so you have energy for tomorrow.”

Many a time my response is based on how intensely my child is feeling something.

There are times I encourage him to share his feelings about me, these moments have been important times I get his perspective on how certain limits feel to him.

I would say. “I am not a bad mommy, I understand you feel upset about——, tell me what are you feeling? You can share with me.” 

I look at such outbursts as moments my child is seeking more guidance from me. By sharing his feelings both of us can work out a way that respects both our sentiments and general family values.

If the child is not calm at the moment to discuss with me or keeps repeating hurtful statements, I will say something like,

“I understand you are upset. But you may not speak to me this way. I will wait for you to calm down. I am here until you feel better. Let’s talk when you are ready.”

It is okay if you don’t solve everything immediately. Once the child has moved through the emotions, you can circle back on why there is friction and discuss how you can better help in setting up limits or why certain limits are there in the first place.

Related reading: How to comfort an upset child?

Our job as a parent is to always,

  1. Focus on the feelings behind the words.

2. Let our children know that regardless of what happens between you, you are always there for them helping them sort out any issues.

And ultimately through such instances, the child learns that emotional regulation and communication are important when handling conflict.

How do you handle such situations? What do you do if you feel triggered by such words?

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