3 year old says “I hate you!”

Dr. Laura,

How would you respond positively when your 3.5 year old tells you they hate you or that you are a bad person? It usually comes from them not getting his way. I have already expressed to him that his words hurt my feelings and that they make me feel sad. He gets that but continues to say it if he doesn't get what he wants.

Thank you!

I know it's hurtful to have your child say such a thing. But it doesn't mean to him what it means to you. He's just try8ing to get what he wants so he's using the nuclear option -- saying the worst thing he can think of to you. In six months, he'll be telling you that he won't let you come to his birthday party!

So just remind yourself not to take it personally, and empathize with the feeling. Not with what he is expressing, but with the reason for it. So, "You're saying that you hate me....Ouch!....You must be pretty mad at me to say something like that....I guess you are very disappointed that you didn't get what you wanted...You were really hoping for that, I know....I'm sorry, Sweetheart, but I can't say yes to that right now. I hear you're sad and mad about that. You can be as mad as you want at me, but I will always love you, no matter what."

warmly,
Dr. Laura


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