When children utter these hurtful words, it is often related to their frustration with not being able to have or do something they desire.
Think about the times when your child says those words; it’s more likely than not when you’re stopping them from getting what they want or when they feel that you don’t understand them.
Surprisingly, when a child says, “I hate you,” it’s not a reflection of their love towards you. Instead, it’s a way of expressing their perception that you are being MEAN!
When children feel misunderstood, unseen, or prevented from getting what they want, they perceive us as being mean. And one of the meanest thing they can say in retaliation is: “I hate you!”
Their words provide insight into how they feel.
Here’s how we can turn things around when our child says “I hate you! You’re mean!”
Children more than anything, want us to understand their perspective.
They need us to wholeheartedly validate their wants and desires and empathise with the frustration of not being able to do or have something that’s important to them.
Regardless of whether or not they can have what they want, understanding and acknowledging their perspective, show them that we genuinely care about them.
The first step in the Language of Listening® coaching model I use and teach, is the Say What You See® technique.
The beauty of Say What You See (SWYS) is its effectiveness in making your child feel seen, heard, and understood quickly. It acts as a powerful tool to create a deep connection with your child.
Here are some examples of how we can validate our child’s wants without necessarily giving it to them:
- Example: Child wants to stay up past bedtime.
- SWYS: “You really wish you could stay up longer and have more time to play and have fun, right?”
- Example: Child wants chocolate before dinner.
- SWYS: “You’re really excited about having that chocolate now, it looks delicious to you.”
- Example: Child wants a new toy they saw at the store.
- SWYS: “That toy caught your eye, and you think it would be so much fun to play with.”
- Example: Child wants to watch TV instead of doing homework.
- SWYS: “You’re feeling like watching TV is more fun than doing your homework.”
- Example: Child wants to eat ice cream for breakfast.
- SWYS: “You love the idea of having ice cream for breakfast because it’s your favourite treat.”
Remember! Acknowledging is not the same as agreeing.
When we acknowledge our child’s feelings, wants or thoughts, it doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with them. Acknowledging means we validate and recognise their perspective without judgement. It’s about showing empathy and understanding, even if we have a different point of view.
And when they feel seen heard and understood, they no longer perceive us as ‘mean’.
After your child feels heard, you can move on to use our other simple coaching skills CAN DOs and STRENGTHs and help them find solutions, manage their own behaviour and find ways to get what they want WITHIN your boundary.
Contrary to popular advice, our role as parents isn’t about stopping our children from getting what they want. Instead, it involves coaching our child to understand their needs and desires and empower them to pursue their ‘wants’ WHILE holding our boundaries.
I can’t begin to tell you how much easier this way to parent is. We get to side step SO many power struggles and stresses.
How to respond when your child says “I hate you!”
Here’s an example of how using our 3-step coaching model. It could sound something like this:
|Child: “I hate you! You’re mean!”
You can start by guessing why they might think you are mean and use a SWYS:
SWYS: “You must think I’m the meanest person ever because I don’t let you play video games. It feels like I always stop you from having fun with your friends, and you wish I’d let you play all the time. That would be awesome, right?”
Child: “Yeah! I hate that you won’t let me play!”
SWYS: “AGHH! You must think I’m the meanest person ever, And, there I go! I NEVER let you play. I bet you wish I would let you play whenever you want. You’d like that! Then I’d be the nicest mum.”
Child: “I want to play whenever I want!”
SWYS: “Of course you do! You want to decide! You really want the freedom to play games whenever you feel like it. It’s frustrating to have restrictions.” (Remember, you’re not agreeing with them! just validating their perspective.)
You now get a chance to point out your child’s STRENGTH “You love playing video games, you love playing with your friends. You’re a great friend!”
CAN DO: “And too much screen time isn’t healthy. There must be something you CAN DO so you can still enjoy playing.”
Child: “I hate it when you limit my screen time! It’s not fair!”
CAN DO: “Let’s create a plan so we agree on a reasonable amount of game time each day, and you get to choose which games to play during that time?”
Child: “Fine, but I still don’t like it!”
CAN DO: “That’s okay; You don’t have to like it. Must be something we CAN DO to come up with a plan?
Child: “Alright! What about we make a schedule for gaming and homework, and have time to do things together.”
CAN DO: “Sure, we can start with a schedule and see how it goes.”
STRENGTH “You found a way to make it work! That shows you’re a problem solver. You know other things are important too, that shows you’re responsible.”
How the 3-steps work together to coach your child to bring out their best.
In this example, the child expresses their frustration about not being allowed to play video games whenever they want.
We use the SAY WHAT YOU SEE (SWYS) technique to validate their desire for more gaming time.
Then we move on to the CAN DO step to help us gain willing cooperation by working with our child and help them gain problem-solving skills. At the SAME time, respecting our boundary.
We then highlight our child’s STRENGTHs. It’s incredibly important, it not only boosts their self-esteem and encourages positive behaviour, it also shows that you see the best in them, so they learn to see the best in themselves too.
Reacting to a child saying, “I hate you. You’re mean!” with understanding transforms challenging moments into valuable opportunities for growth and connection.
In Language of Listening® we avoid getting caught up in the mean words and instead, we’re on our child’s side, helping them feel seen, heard, and valued. We collaborate with them to find solutions that work for both parties and we bring out their greatness so they gain confidence in their abilities.
This approach fosters a calmer home life and builds strong connection and understanding between us and our child, leading to effective problem-solving and a more positive parent-child relationship.
Discover how Language of Listening can revolutionise your family dynamics and bring out the best in your kids. Reach out to me via email, and let’s have a chat to explore the best way we can work together to create a harmonious and supportive environment for your family.