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Why Do Kids Say “I Hate You” and How to Respond with Humor

Uncategorized Feb 03, 2024

 As a parent, it's possible that you've heard your child say "I hate you" at some point. Although it can be a hurtful and unexpected experience, there are ways to deal with this situation with humor and empathy.

Why Kids Say "I Hate You"

Children usually say "I hate you" when they are experiencing intense emotions that they don't know how to express. They may be feeling angry, frustrated, disappointed, scared or sad, and they may not have the words or the skills to communicate those feelings. They may also say it to test boundaries, seek attention or manipulate outcomes. Kids may project their own negative feelings onto you, or blame you for something they did wrong.

How to Respond with Humor and Empathy

When your child says "I hate you," it's important to respond with humor and empathy. Humor can help diffuse the tension, ease the mood, and show your child that you don't take their words personally. Empathy can help you understand your child's feelings, acknowledge their emotions, and demonstrate that you care.

Here are some examples of how to respond with humor and empathy:

  • "I hate you!" - "Wow, that's a strong word. Are you sure you don't mean 'I'm very mad at you' or 'I strongly dislike you'?"
  • "I hate you!" - "I'm sorry you feel that way. I love you anyway, even when you're being a little stinker."
  • "I hate you!" - "You hate me? That's okay, I have enough love for both of us. And for the dog. And for the mailman. And for the pizza delivery guy. And for..."
  • "I hate you!" - "You hate me? That's too bad because I think you're awesome. And smart. And funny. And cute. And..."
  • "I hate you!" - "You hate me? That's fine, you can hate me for now. But you still have to do your chores, follow the rules, and be nice to your sister. And maybe later, you'll change your mind."
  • "I hate you!" - "You hate me? That's interesting because I love you. And you know what they say, opposites attract. So maybe we're a perfect match."

By staying calm and composed, you can help your child learn how to express their emotions in a healthier and more productive way. You can teach them how to name their feelings, how to cope with them, and how to communicate them. You can also model how to apologize, how to forgive, and how to move on.

In conclusion, it's important to remember that kids say "I hate you" for various reasons, but they don't actually mean it. They are just feeling overwhelmed and don't know how to express their emotions. Responding with humor and empathy can help you diffuse the situation and teach your child how to deal with their feelings in a better way.

Turmoil into Tranquility?


Meltdowns overwhelming you?


You’re not alone. Many of us parents grapple with our kids' intense outbursts, feeling a mix of frustration, helplessness, and guilt.

There is hope.


You can learn to guide your child through their storms with greater ease and assurance, forging a deeper connection in the process.

Let me show you what I mean.


Join me in the complimentary video/lecture ‘Navigating Meltdowns: Aiding Your Child and Yourself Amidst Emotional Highs,’ where you’ll gain insights on:

  • The roots of meltdowns

  • Distinguishing between everyday issues and overwhelming meltdowns

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  • Supportive responses to help your child during challenging moments

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This guidance is drawn from my dual expertise as both a parent and a psychiatrist.

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