What To Do When Your Child Says "I Hate You!"
As parents we've all heard those 3 words before, and they always strike your heart the same. And if you've yet to experience it, the dreaded "I hate you" will come to your ears sooner or later. Most of the time your child will scream it at you in a fit of rage for not buying the toy gun, makeup set, or video game that they pleaded with you to buy at the store. Or you will hear it yelled at you in a fit of rage for any reason, usually when they don't get their way.
This is usually one way kids and especially younger children develop, by arguing and defying us and sometimes scorning us. But as parents, what are we to do? How do we handle this situation that cuts us to the bone and stops us in our tracks?
First, do not overreact. Even though it is so easy to get mad and upset, it is best to weather out our kids expressions of anger and hatred by taking deep breaths, or counting. Do not allow yourself to get drawn into an argument. Just try to stay calm. Give both of you time to cool off, but let your child know that when you do, you will talk about it.
It is important to acknowledge their feelings, do not undermine how they feel by trying to tell them how they feel. Help them realize that erupting so angrily and personally during an argument is not right.
Be sure to time your follow up discussion, you don't want to wait too long. Once both of you are calm and not as emotional, approach them, forgetting your personal feelings and ask your child what is bothering them and what made them feel so angry. Do not get defensive, even though it can be very hard. Just listen to your children at this time, later on you can explain how you feel. If you interrupt your child to tell them how hurt or upset you were, you will only end up frustrating them all over again.
Be sure to ask them for ideas. Once they have finished talking about what is bothering them, ask what you can do to make sure you don't have this fight again. When you ask this question you are making your child feel as though you respect their opinion, but it gives them the challenge of coming up with something that will make them feel better. Sometimes your children's gripes are justified. Parents do oftentimes promise to buy something, then back out. They will also impose unrealistic expectations or blame kids for something they did not do.
Let your children know that even we (parents) have feelings of anger and even hatred, but that these feelings are natural and usually do not last long. Make sure you let them know how much you love them. Having such violent emotions during an argument can leave everyone feeling upset. Let them know that you are always here for them, and that will never change.
Doing this does not mean that you and your children will argue any less, or that the dreaded 3 words will never pop up again. I'm sure that they will. During the heat of the moment when a child is so distressed about whatever the issue might be, they are usually not thinking clearly and may say a lot of hurtful things that they do not really mean. Remember this, and remember most to always have an open door policy on talking, and most of all to have open arms and an "I love you," waiting.