How many parents have heard these three little words and wanted to cry? “I hate you mom.”
A phrase that shocks any parent and the first reaction we think of is punishing or blaming the child for saying it.
However, punishing or blaming is not beneficial when trying to understand the reason behind this kind of behavior, and it will not teach them beneficial life skills.
A sentence made of three painful words with an indirect message. “Help me. I need you. I am so angry that I cannot express how I feel.”
Respond with dignity and respect:
- Reply in a calm and repectful manner. “If I have ever spoken to you that way, I apologize. I don’t want to hurt you or be hurt by you.”
- Count to ten or apply some other form of positive time-out so you don’t get stuck in an argument. Avoid comebacks such as “How you dare to talk to me that way.”
- Instead of focusing on the disrespect, focus on the feelings.
- “You are obviously very upset right now. You know it upsets me when you talk like that. Let’s both take some time out to calm down. We can talk later when we feel better. I’d like to hear what you are upset about.”
Share your feelings:
- “It hurts me when you talk to me that way. Later, we can find a way together to tell me what you want or how you feel.”
- “I wonder if I did something to hurt your feelings because that certainly hurt mine.”
- Sharing your feelings will show them that you accept their anger and you accept them in all their states; you don’t accept expressing anger in a painful.
- If you are not too upset, you can tell them that you love them even if they hate you. Once you have both calmed down, let her know you would like to work on a respectful solution. Own your mistakes, so they own theirs, and work on a solution together.
- Apologize if you have been disrespectful. “I can see that I was disrespectful when I demanded that you clean up your room. How can I ask you to be respectful when I’m not?” Let her know that you can’t “force” her to be respectful, but you will work on being respectful yourself.
- Finally don’t take “I hate you” in a personal way as “hate” was not hate; it was love on a bad day.
Accept and support your child in a kind and firm way, so they can learn that their parents are willing to take responsibility for their part in an interaction. They can learn that back talk or painful words are not effective. They should learn respectful communication and express their anger in a valid way without hurting other’s feelings.