Love/hate…what does it all mean?

I find myself ‘Googling’ “what should I say when my 4 year-old says________?” so frequently that I feel like I should start my own parenting forum. I guess a blog post will have to do.

My most recent searches have specifically been about self-esteem issues. Sadly, I find myself lacking any originality on the information super highway and I literally just type in “4 year-old with self-esteem issues”. As if, the Google guru’s are supposed to know exactly what I mean. Predictively, they do not.

Lately, my daughter has been struggling with love and all it encompasses. She is the first to say she loves you (a little too frequently) and if you play with her at all (even if she just met you), she will probably tell you she loves you with 10 minutes.

Unfortunately, I think, she thinks, she can only love one or two people at the same time – for she will later say, “I love Briana (her cousin) and mommy, but not daddy”. Clearly, she does love daddy, he (or whomever) is usually not even around when she says it, and if it is not daddy, then she arbitrarily throws out another name of a family member or close friend that she ‘no longer’ loves. Even worse, she thinks if you don’t look at her, or don’t want to play what she wants to play, means you don’t love her.

The Google guru’s did find me an article on Babycenter regarding how to respond when your child says “I hate you”? A close second to, “I don’t love you anymore”!

Guess what? I have heard those dreaded words (I hate you) uttered from the mouth of my incredibly wordy daughter too. How about you? They just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside don’t they? Ahem.

And…guess what? I responded exactly how the ‘expert’ urges NOT to. Shocking.

Though you may be tempted to, avoid responding to your child’s “I hate you!” with “Well, I love you.” This will only shame her. And saying, “You know you love Mommy,” or “There’s no reason to get so upset!” belittles her very real feelings.

Umm…how many of you have replied with shame and belittling too?

Am I, yet again to blame?

oye, vey!

Is this a self-esteem issue, or simply a phase?

The neurotic mother in me who studied psychology says it has everything to do with self-esteem.

The stay-at-home mother who knows way to much about phases, says it is a phase.

So, which one is it?

This is why I am enlisting the help of all of you, my trusty readers. If you are a psychologist/psychiatrists, then added bonus!!!

Oh, btw, the correct response (I think) to your child saying hurtful words is to focus on the cause not the response.

For example – if your child tells you that they hate you right after you tell them they can’t have a cookie (the cause) chaser with their morning waffles, then remind them (without mocking) that cookies can be eaten after lunch but an apple or banana is intended for a breakfast time sweet.

Acknowledge their frustration with words, “I can tell you are really upset”, but try not to let them see your frustration (not even a facial muscle twitch). It has nothing to do with you, so don’t give them the power of making it about you. That is how they learn manipulation.

Although the issue for me, is love, not hate. Or is it?

Is it insecurity?

proof it is not all bad!
proof it is not all bad!

Let the forum begin.

Magazine Mom

8 thoughts on “Love/hate…what does it all mean?

  1. When Kiddo says she hates such and such friend, I ask her if she “really hates that person, you mean you never ever want to see that person again, or do not like there actions of the moment” (ie whatever happened to make her feel that way). It seems to help her to see the difference between a person and an action of a person. Haven’t gotten the “i hate you mommy” yet, but I know it’s coming one day…oh joy!

  2. I actually got the first ” I hate you” from Allison this past week. Not only did she tell me that she hated me she then asked how you spell hate so she could write it in her journal… Lovely.
    I guess it is good that they are learning to put their feeling into words but ouch that one goes straight to the heart. Thanks for the note about focusing on the action that caused it…will remember that one for next time.

  3. We say “strongly dislike” instead of hate. Daphne’s first written note to me: “I hat you dad” to which I responded “I know you don’t HAT me”. She then snagged the note from me and added the missing letter E right where it should be.

    Sammii’s first note: “I lave you” to which I responded “I love you too” and we had big hugs.

  4. Oh, yeah, for almost every parenting issue I google (really, why don’t I just call you?), whatever it says not to do is usually the first thing I did. Oops.

  5. I have received the “I hate you” as well. My son has quite the imagination so he even took it a step farther and said he wished he had a real lion so it could eat me. Makes me feel so good about all I do for him! I know it’s a phase, but we have talked about how words can hurt. I try to talk with him when we are both in a good place instead of when it happens and he’s upset.

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