What Should You Do When You Feel Like Your Child Hates You?
Read on to find out how to deal when it seems that your child hates you.
The day you dreaded the most has finally come. Your child, for some reason or another, suddenly starts acting out. It's not just a typical tantrum this time though — it actually seems that your child hates you!
How do you deal with this situation? What should you do when you feel like your child hates you?
It's not easy but there is hope. Let's take a look at some of the things you can do.
Don’t take it personally
This is easier said than done. When your formerly sweet, loving and affectionate child spouts “I hate you” or “you’re mean” at the drop of a hat, it’s difficult to not take it personally.
However, you have to remember — you’re the adult and your child is just exactly that... a child.
Besides, in all likelihood, your child doesn’t really hate you. He may think you’re mean because you don’t give in to his every whim, but that’s not being mean… that’s actually good parenting, and your kid just doesn't realize it yet.
The reality of the situation is that your child loves you more than anything. She feels safe with you, she craves your attention and your time, and she wants you to keep her close to you.
So why do you sometimes feel that your child hates you?
After reading that last part, you're probably wondering, "If my child really feels like that, why does he 'hit' me with a barrage of hurtful words?" Because he knows he can do so without losing your love.
Your child is probably experiencing feelings he doesn’t know how to deal with, so he lashes out at the one ‘thing’ (that’s you) that they know won’t lash back.
These harsh and hurtful words shouldn't be passed off as a phase, however, because they are the indication of something more AND these are extremely formative years — years you need to pour yourself into developing your child's character, people skills and ability to communicate and express himself appropriately.
That's why it’s imperative that you deal with this situation quickly and correctly.
Nice work, Nancy Drew
The first thing you need to do when you start feeling that your child hates you is a bit of detective work. You need to find out why she is feeling anxious, frustrated and angry.
It could be any number of things, but is usually the result of one (or a combination) of the following:
1) Not enough rest
Does your child have a set bedtime? Does she still take naps? Is bedtime stressful or does she get a good night’s sleep?
Is your child getting a balanced diet of protein and fresh fruits and veggies? Are they getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals?
Remember, a child whose blood sugar is all over the map or who is ‘high’ on sugar or caffeine can be a volatile child.
3) New skills
Are they frustrated over learning new skills? A child — especially a preschool-aged one — in a setting where new skills such as colouring within the lines, cutting, pasting, etc. are emphasized can often become frustrated when they aren’t ‘getting it’ and either everyone else seems to be or the teacher is putting too much pressure on them.
These scenarios can lead to aggression. If you are the ‘teacher’ or are expecting too much from your preschooler’s ability to comprehend and excel, let off a bit and see what happens.
Is your child scared? Has there been a recent upheaval in the home such as a separation or divorce? Children this age don’t know how to express their fear over such changes in their lives and may act out instead.
5) Deeper issues
Could it be possible that your child is experiencing undiagnosed emotional or medical problems?
Children who are having trouble hearing or seeing often act aggressively because they are frustrated at their lack of ability to see or hear. This is especially true if you are punishing them or reprimanding them for not listening or doing what you say.
The reality is that they can’t understand you but you don’t know that and they don’t know how to tell you. The same goes for emotional or mental problems that have gone untreated.
If nothing else you do seems to make a difference, have your child examined by their pediatrician.
6) Lack of attention
Is your child simply calling out for your attention? This is usually the case.
In a world where we rush from one thing to the next and often mistake time in the car or running errands for time spent with a child, children are simply trying to say, ‘Slow down. Take some time to notice me and play with me.’
Now that you know… or think you know
Once you’ve established a possible reason for their behavior (or reasons), it is up to you to either a) rectify the situation by making necessary changes and/or b) teach your child the appropriate manner in which they should express their feelings.
For instance, dietary issues or the fact that your child is just worn out and tired are pretty easy to fix. Change what they eat and put them to bed at a decent time.
But if frustration over learning new skills, having difficulty learning to share or situations at home are the issue, intervention and instruction are necessary, and possibly even a bit of disciplinary action.
As for physical, emotional and mental issues, once diagnosed, some behaviour may correct itself. If not, intervention, instruction and discipline will help.
Of course, when it comes to the 'lack of attention' issue, you should take some time to be with your child. If you have to give up something to spend more time at home with the kids, you need to do just that.
Remember, your children are your greatest treasure and the only real indelible mark you’ll leave behind once you’re gone.
When your child lashes out at you, you need to take them in your arms, or sit closely beside them, hold their hands and make eye contact.
Once this is established, you need to calmly and gently explain to them that their words make you sad. You need to remind them that you would never say such things to them and that this is not the way people talk to each other.
In other words, your child needs to know he hurt your feelings and that his words/actions are not appropriate or acceptable. Ask your child if he understands if he has wronged you.
After you have established the wrongdoing and your child has expressed understanding of the same, you need to offer him alternatives for expressing his feelings.
For instance: “I know you don’t always want to do what I tell you to do, but you need to tell me in a nice way. Don’t say mean things like ‘I hate you’. Say something like ‘this makes me angry’ or ‘I don’t like this’."
Along with giving them alternative methods of expressing anger and frustration, assure them that when you hear those words, ‘this makes me angry’, etc., that you will take the time to talk to them about their feelings and work it out.
Every action has consequences. So once you have explained to your child the inappropriateness of their words and have given alternative solutions, infractions need to be backed up with discipline.
Short time-outs (2-3 minutes), losing privileges or additional household chores can be some of the things your child has to go through because of his actions/words. Always remember to use age-appropriate techniques of disciplining him.
The situations that make you feel like your child hates you are often a 'cry for help' so don't ignore them. Instead, do what needs to be done NOW.
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