First things first – your child does not hate you. They may say they do, and it certainly may feel like it – but that connection between a child and parent is pretty strong.
There are a lot of reasons why a child may say that they hate you, or act unkindly towards you – let’s have a look at these reasons, and find some strategies to help you deal with it.
How To Deal With A Child Who Hates You
When you first hear those three little words from your precious darling, it can be a really heartbreaking moment. Here’s how to hold it together:
- Breathe. Take a moment to calm your initial thoughts and automatic responses, especially if those words have been flung at you during a heated moment.
- Ensure your child knows you love them. Of course they don’t actually hate you – they may be pushing to see how much you actually DO love them, so make sure they know you always will.
- Explain that words can hurt. The child needs to know that saying something like this can be very painful for the recipient – don’t shame them, but let them know it’s unkind.
- Try to find out why they’re saying it. Your child may have said they hate you because you said they can’t have chocolate for dinner – explore some more appropriate reactions.
- Talk to them when you’re both calm. Some children really can’t cope in the heat of the moment, so you may have to leave the conversation until they are calm and regulated.
- Validate the feelings. Whatever has caused them to say what they say is what you need to be dealing with, so make sure they know that you hear and accept their feelings.
What Does It Mean If Your Child Hates You?
The most important thing to remember is that a child isn’t necessarily operating on the same level as an adult who says they hate you.
Kids tend to say these things in an explosive, out of the blue moment – saying “I hate you!” really doesn’t mean they actually hate you.
It can be really hard to deal with all the different things in the world, and kids have far fewer tools than adults with which to do so.
Any child who says they hate you is struggling with some really big feelings – they feel awful and want to let you know about it!
Being kind, fair and firm, and establishing healthy boundaries about what is and is not OK to say to another person is a good step forward here.
Remember to try not to take it personally – although it feels really painful, it is not YOU that they are hating, but a certain situation.
Why Does A Child Reject A Parent?
If you think about it, parents represent safety, home, love and comfort to a child. If a parent is fully rejected, there is always a reason.
It might start with little one preferring Mummy over Daddy – this is normal and almost expected when they are tiny, as it is usually Mum who is there most of the time.
The child may choose Daddy over Mummy, especially as they get older – again, this is developmentally normal and nothing to worry about.
Parental alienation is a much more worrying dynamic, often seen in parents who have split up. One parent may subtly – or not so subtly – undermine the other, so that the child no longer feels safe with that parent.
Attachment disorders can also cause parental rejection – if a child has been suddenly separated from their mother early in their development, it can lead to personality issues.
How Do You React When Your Child Is Mean To You?
If you’re anything like me, you either burst into noisy sobs, or you retaliate with mean behaviour right back!
OK, I’m joking – no one does this to a child. But, it can be hard to know what to do for the best when your child does something mean. Let’s explore some options.
- First, take a breath. You will need to be in a calm, collected state of mind so that you can deal with the behaviour.
- Next, ask questions. Finding out why your child has lobbed a wooden brick at your head, or told you that you’re the worst parent in the world, is key.
- You should also validate their feelings. Yes, I know – they do often seem to be wildly over dramatic – but they need to know that what they’re feeling is OK to feel.
- Let them know they are loved. Some kids push boundaries specifically to test how much the parent loves them – this is especially true for anxious children.
- Finally, talk when everyone is calm. The heat of the moment may not be the best time to have a big discussion, so bring it up when tempers have died down.
Why Does My Child Say Hurtful Things?
Kids don’t generally say hurtful things with the sole intention of hurting you or making you sad.
Generally, hurtful words and behaviour stems from an unmet need in the child – he or she is struggling, and feels the need to lash out.
You don’t have to allow this to happen – model to your child the importance of being kind and caring, and they should hopefully start to pick it up.
It’s not an instant fix, so if your child has been saying hurtful things for a while it might take time to stop – but it’s worth it in the long run.
Hate is such a strong word, isn’t it? Most of the time, when a child uses it, they are trying to express something else – big feelings all the way!
We hope that reading through our hints and tips can help you to deal with the problem – and realise that even big issues like this can be worked through.