"I hate you!" These words can cut straight to the heart of any parent when uttered by their child. However, parents don't always need to take this statement seriously. Children of all ages can become emotional and angry when parents set healthy boundaries for them. Parents have wisdom that is beyond what the minds of youngsters can understand. Wise parents set limits regardless of their children's response, and they stick to them.
Children carefully observe their parents and know the best tools to leverage to get what they want. Hateful words are a tool that some children use to influence their parents to give in to the child's demands. Children also test their parents' boundaries to see if their word can be trusted. When parents stand firm even in through hateful, disrespectful words, children learn they can trust their parents. This trust can help in building strong positive parent-child relationships.
Here is another take on maintaining the limits. When you set limits for your children, you give them a proactive way to respond to negative peer pressure. They can cite your rules for not participating in risky behaviors as their reason for not going along. Any parent would be happy to take the blame in this instance, right?
So... how should you respond to this type of outburst from your child? First of all, remain the calm, healthy adult who will not get sucked into the child's loss of control. Hold on to your self control, no matter what. When you do, you will be more credible and believable. You need to be in control of yourself when your child is out of control. You want to show that you care about the child, but will not give in to the demands. Keep your voice quiet and utter one or more of these phrases:
- "I'm disappointed to hear that because I love you very much."
- "I can see that your are unhappy about my decision, but it will stand."
- "You are angry. We can talk about this when you calm down."
- "Those words hurt my feelings, but I will not change my mind."
- "I love you too much to argue with you about this. We can talk later when you are calm."
- Any other phrase that rolls off your tongue in a calm and caring tone will be effective.
You might want to choose just one phrase and repeat it over and over again. This is called the "Broken Record" technique. It can help you avoid an argument that escalates and goes in a myriad of directions. Here is a link with some additional thoughts on this topic. Hang in there parents! Prove you love your kids enough to provide them with healthy, reasonable limits.