Three little words that as a parent I thought would take years to hear, if ever. What exactly do you do when your toddler hates you?

It can be hard to know how to react when your child says I hate you (or some variation of that idea). If you ever do hear these fateful words, make sure to stop, breathe (the most underrated step – so important) and remind yourself that they don’t actually hate you. As much as you know that deep down, it’s important to pause and remind yourself. 

When this happens over and over, as things with children often do, it can be easy to let it get your spirits down. As little as it is, reminding yourself it’s not personal can really help. 

Chances are that they don’t even understand what those three strong words really mean. Those early years are about learning what everything means. About understanding the different levels of words and feelings. About learning boundaries and extremes. 

Next, talk it through with them. If they’re upset, ask them what is going on. If they’ve already expressed frustration, be sure to acknowledge it. It’s important that even if they’re expressing this strong word that they still feel safe to be emotional and supported. It’s also equally important to talk to them about the implications of saying “I hate you.”. Despite frustrations, these words can be harmful and shouldn’t be used towards others.

Finally, just remember that they’re at a stage of wanting to make choices – to have preferences and figuring out how to share them. It may be that they’re just preferring one parent to another or one grandparent to another and trying to express that to you, even if not in the nicest of ways. Communication with young children is often far from perfect. It’s never easy to hear the H word from your mini, but just remember that at this age, it’s almost never personal.

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