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My Son Hates Me!
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July 15, 2014  |  Written by Carlota Nelson

Being a parent implies sacrifice and a lot of it. Ever since they´re born, your life changes drastically. You are up all night trying to get them to sleep, to eat or to calm them down. You can´t go into work because your baby has a fever or isn´t feeling well. You leave your own dreams aside so your children can achieve theirs. You miss out on social outings and buying clothes or furniture just so you can have more to spend on them. That´s the way it is: when you become a parent, you are naturally inclined to take the back seat and love them unconditionally. That´s why it hurts so much when your son or daughter screams or yells, insults you or says the four words you thought were impossible to hear coming from her mouth: “Mom, I hate you.” 

As a parent, you feel attacked by the little person you love the most and when it happens, you take it personally. But, wouldn´t things be different if you knew that those words really have nothing to do with you and that if you react poorly, you´ll only be reinforcing their bad behaviour? We´ve written a mini-guide on how to understand this difficult behaviour (more frequent than you think) and how to survive it.

“Mom, I hate you.” Children use these words (usually without knowing what they really  mean) when they feel bad, stressed, angry or have a problem they don´t know how to solve. Since they don´t have the emotional or verbal skills they need to fix a conflict, children deliver their anger towards you and when they get the reaction they want (make you angry), it helps them compensate for their own inability to problem solve.  Obviously this happens on an unconscious level. That´s why, getting angry, upset or reacting poorly is the last thing you should do.

Don´t counter attack. Yes, your natural instinct is to answer back, scream or try to reason with your child but remember you are the adult and if you obey your instinct, you´ll be sending the wrong messages: you´re not in control emotionally and worse yet: you´re teaching your child that when he is attacked, he should counter attack, just like you. Remember you are in the mirror in which children look at and find the way to behave and feel.

“You can´t say that”. Some parents react to their children´s insults with these words. But, the truth is they can say those and many more angry words. In fact, if we do react by saying these words, you child might take it as a challenge and think: “Oh yeah? Well, listen to this!” Try to avoid power struggles and start using effective words like: “Well, I´m sorry you feel that way” or “Talking to me like that won´t change anything.”  “If you want, we can talk about what is troubling you when you´ve calmed down.” Remember, it´s important for your child to see you remain calm and in control.

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The body tells all. Aside from keeping calm, remember to watch your body language: avoid rolling your eyes, crossing your arms, pacing up and down… Maintain a neutral posture. If you´re feeling a bit down yourself or it catches you off guard, the best thing to do is walk away and come back when you are feeling stronger and more calm. It´s also important they know that certain words are upsetting and unnecessary.

Avoid Over-Protection. Many children who learn to actually hate their parents are those who are not allowed to develop their own skills to become independent. And that´s what all children crave for: being able to do something on their own. And celebrating it when they do. That´s why, children shy away from parents who control and organize their everyday, choose their activities or don´t let them experiment or be on their own. Let them choose what they want to play at and when. Let them dress by themselves and give them responsibilities like taking out the trash, setting the table or washing the dishes.

If you´ve followed this advice and your child keeps up with the bad behaviour, talk to his teachers. Together you might discover  what is troubling him and, if necessary, get professional advice.

Photo Credits: Tony Alter

Photo Credits: Niklas Hellerstedt

 

 

 

 

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