How Do You Respond When Your Child says “I Hate You”?

Have you ever had your child yell at you “I hate you”. I know that doesn’t feel good. It feels like a low moment in parenting. Hopefully it wont happen to you but if it does you are required to respond like an adult.

Your child lashes out with the most hurtful thing they can think of to say, “I hate you”. They must be extremely frustrated or hurt and he/she is expressing that feeling with anger. They do not know how to deal with their feelings in a healthy way. You, as the adult, need to show them a more appropriate response. The first thing to remember when disciplining a child for any unacceptable behavior is never withhold your love, that can not be a punishment.  When they yell hurtful words do not stoop to their childish behavior and respond with anger. You need to be the adult and show them how to handle their feelings and that those hurtful words that they yell at you do have consequences.

The idea to withhold love as a consequence for any bad behavior should not be a parenting strategy. There can be no silent treatment, no withholding hugs or bedtime kisses. Your child needs to know that even when they behave badly at school or don’t do their chores or don’t turn in their homework that there will be natural consequences to their choices but they will always be loved. You want your child to feel safe in the relationship, secure in how you will respond.

A child who does not feel this security in the home may respond in many different ways. They may seek that acceptance and security from someone else or a group. They may live with great anxiety and develop physical and emotional responses. They may put great pressure on themselves to be perfect so they will not make you angry and loose your favor. All of these responses are unhealthy behavior choices and will have consequences in their adult relationships.

Your job as the parent is to reassure them of their secure place in your heart and in the home and that you always want what is best for them. You may need to enforce the discipline but teaching them that there are consequences for their behavior does not need to be mean, it can be done with strength and love.

Written by Lisa Strong


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