“I hate you!” Six Tips to Help Parents Deal with Their Child’s Angry Words

tantrumgirl-300x199“I hate you!”

No…your child’s body has not been taken over by aliens.  You do not need to clean out your ears. That’s right.  You heard it correctly.

Any person who has ever said that “words will never hurt you” never had their child say “I hate you” to his face. You know.  It has probably happened to you.

Being a parent is tough sometimes, isn’t it?  You know in your head that your child does not really hate you.  But when he utters those words…it’s hard not to feel a surge of sadness, frustration, hurt or anger.

We often don’t know what to do when our kids come out with these verbal lashings.  It’s unexpected.  Shocking. Isn’t this the little cherub that hugs you 20 times a day and can’t go to bed unless you’re there to kiss him goodnight?

When children are young, they don’t have the subtle language to beat around the bush.  When they are angry, they say it.  It’s normal.  It just doesn’t feel like it when it happens to you.

So…what should you do?

(1)  Look for the issue behind the words:  Your child doesn’t always have the language to explain his frustration.  When your child says “I hate you,” he might be having difficultly completing a task, attaining something he wants, or expressing a complex emotion like fear.  As parents, we must become a detective and figure out what our children are really trying to relay.

(2)  Help your child recognize anger:  This is the first real step in anger management.  If your child can recognize when he is feeling angry, he will have an easier time expressing and coping with the feeling rather than lashing out.  Ask your child, “what does your body feel like when you are angry?”  Help him to name it while it is happening, “I can tell by your face and your body that you are angry. You are having trouble turning your toy on.  That’s very frustrating!”  This will help to validate what your child is feeling and while also helping him to put a name to the emotion and the cause of the anger.

(3)  Give your child the right words: When your child is calm, talk about what happened.  Remind him of when he was feeling angry earlier in the day and what he said.  Let him know that when he says “I hate you,” it hurts your feelings.  Then ask him, “What can you say instead?” If he is unsure, give him the right words.  “When you feel this way, instead of saying ‘I hate you,’ say, ‘I feel angry and I need help, please.”  Help him to practice expressing his feelings so that when he is angry again (and he will be!), he can call on these skills.

(4)  Provide calming techniques: We all get angry.  Helping your child deal with anger in a constructive manner will be a gift that he can use for the rest of his life.  Introduce and practice some techniques when your child is open to listening (not when in the heat of battle!).  Counting to 10, singing a song, running in place, and talking to oneself, are some simple ways to calm down when angry.  One of my favorite techniques I use with young children is to “smell the roses and blow away the clouds.” This is a powerful way to teach children to take a few deep breaths.

(5)  Provide problem solving techniques: Let your child know that there are lots of ways to solve problems.  If something isn’t working, try something else!  You might say, “Could you help me put the wheel back on my truck?” or “maybe I should play with something else.”  Help your child think about solutions that are safe, fair, and likely to be successful.

(6)  Watch your own language: Regrettably, in this case, “monkey see, monkey do.”  If you use harsh language in anger or you say “I hate” towards objects around your own house (i.e. I hate doing laundry; I hate carrots; I hate when the phone rings during your nap time), your child will pick up on it and use it himself.  Unfortunately, such language might be directed at you!

Perhaps the most important thing for you to keep in mind while all this is happening is that your child doesn’t really hate you.  So take a deep breath. Sometimes parents, too, need to remember to smell the flowers and blow away the clouds.  After all, it is likely that clear skies are on the horizon.


Note: Some of this article was originally posted in Bay State Parent Magazine, 2008.



“I hate you!” Six Tips to Help Parents Deal with Their Child’s Angry Words is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System


Parents forget child at Chuck E Cheese: 10 parenting tips for safety and preparation

chuckecheese-300x168I can’t believe I’m saying this…Parents are forgetting their kids at the children’s play place, Chuck E. Cheese’s.  While this may sounds like the makings of a Saturday Night Live skit to you, it’s actually the truth. Yesterday, Good Morning America called me to do a piece (which was squashed at the final hour) about a 5 year old girl who was left at Chuck E. Cheese’s last week.

It happened on Thursday night when the child was left at Chuck E. Cheese’s immediately following her own birthday party.  One of 10 children in a family, she was left behind by her mother—it wasn’t discovered that she was missing until the following day when her mother realized the girl wasn’t in her bed (she as getting her up for school).  Sounds completely implausible, right?

Perhaps.  But when 3 adults were attending the event with 19 children—things can get pretty hectic.  Was there a miscommunication of who was taking the child home?  Did everyone assume someone else was taking care of her?  We don’t know. The girl is now in protective custody until they determine what really happened here.

harmony-300x225But, believe it or not, this has happened before to other parents.  In fact, it just happened last Monday to another family! Three-year-old Harmony was left behind by her parents at a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant in Bel Air, Maryland. They only realized that they had forgotten her when they saw a report about her on the evening news. Apparently there have been other cases of this in other areas as well.

Were the children misbehaving? Were the parents trying to employ the safe haven rule at Chuck E. Cheese’s? No. Parents haven’t left their kids there because they were at their wits end, they were leaving them there…by mistake.

I know.  It’s ridiculous. How can people forget their child…let alone in a place that they attended for their children? But if you had 10 children…if it was a big crowd…if you made assumptions about who was picking up or dropping off your child…if you were exhausted or fed up or had a headache…could it happen to you or someone you know?

Whether you think so or not, this does beg some tips about parenting in a large, chaotic play place.

(1) Ensure that you have enough adults: When you have 19 children at a range of ages (some very young) and only three adults, you are out sorely outnumbered. There needs to be enough adults to ensure the safety of the children—especially when they may all be heading in different directions.

(2) Have an exit strategy: When you are dealing with multiple children, make sure every child and every adults knows where to meet, who they are going with, and how to check in with the adults.

(3) Make sure everyone knows the rules: Before entering a large play place, talk to your children about the safety rules. Even though this place is devoted to having fun, safety must come first.  Young children must be attended to at all times—they must be able to see you and you must be able to see them.

(4) Do a headcount: When you first walk in, periodically throughout the play time, and upon leaving and getting into the car, do a head count.  Not sure if everyone is there?  Roll call!

(5) Pair up buddies: Another safety precaution is assigning buddies.  When each child has another person they must keep track of and who must keep track of them, it adds another layer of security.  When you call out “buddies!” everyone finds their buddy or, alternatively, can tell you that they don’t know where their buddy is at the time.  You can pair up friends—but

(6) Appoint adults: When hosting a big group, each adult should be appointed to certain children such that the same people who came in the car on the way there should be the ones who return in that same car on the way home (unless explicit conversations and logistics beg otherwise).  When children pour into cars without thought, assumptions about the whereabouts of certain children can be made.

(7) Teach basic safety: Just like we discussed in the attempted Walmart kidnapping recently, each child should know how to protect him or herself. Who should s/he go to if s/he is lost?  What if s/he is approached by a stranger?  What if someone tries to take them away from the play area or outside through coercion or force?

(8) Teach life-saving personal information: Every child should learn basic facts about him or herself at a very early age.  For example, my daughter just turned 3 and already knows her full name and her street address.  If she needs it, she has it.  You can easily start to teach this to a young child by saying your address each time you approach your home—break it down a little at a time.  It can become a game of 20 questions—what number house do we live at? What street do we live on? What color is our home? What town do we live in?  Then teach him or her when to share the information and who s/he can share it with—and who s/he shouldn’t!

(9) If you can’t handle it, don’t do it: Think it sounds overwhelming to take a group of children to a large play area without more help?  Listen to your gut and don’t do it.  Even taking care of 2 young children in a large play area can be challenging if they go in two different directions—so know your limit and be sure you have enough back up.

(10) Recheck: At the end of the day, before leaving any venue with your family and friends, check and recheck that you have everyone!  Make no assumptions.

When Good Morning American did their preliminary interview with me, they asked if only bad parents would leave their child somewhere such as Chuck E Cheese’s. I can’t make assumptions about the character of any of the parents who have done this—but I can say that parenting begs incredible organization, preparation and attention.  In this case, these areas failed.

As parents, we will all make some mistakes. I’ve had very smart friends who thought the other parent was home and left their children to run an errand for a short time. I’ve had friends who thought the other parent was picking up their child from school and didn’t. Strange things can happen.

The Chuck E. Cheese’s situation pushes this to the limit considering that the parents didn’t know the child was missing until the next morning.  To that I say, check beds, kiss heads and make sure you KNOW where every one of your young, school-age, or pre-college age children are when you turn out the light at night.

What do YOU think? Has anything like this ever happened to you?



Ask Dr. Robyn: How Can I Help My Child Show More Courage?

silverman_headshotCourage is the Powerful Word of the Month! How do we encourage our children to try new things? Meet new people? Stand up for what they believe in?  Dr. Robyn Silverman, child and teen development specialist, answers one reader’s question about developing courage in her child. Several tips are provided– which ones resonate with you?



What will you try with your children this month? How have you helped your children to show more courage?  Please share here or on our Facebook page— We’d love to hear from you!

Ask Dr. Robyn: How Can I Help My Child Show More Courage? is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Dr. Robyn introduces the Powerful Word of the Month: Courage!

Happy March! The powerful word of the month is courage! Let’s help our children (and ourselves) face fears and challenges with determination.

Courage Quotes:

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” –John Maxwell

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” –Mary Anne Radmacher

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” –Winston Churchill

“Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.”–Thomas S. Szasz

“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”–Charles Dubois

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”–Soren Kierkegaard

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“The rewards doesn’t necessarily go to the biggest, the brightest or the best.  It goes to the one who has the courage to keep trying until success is inevitably achieved.” — Dr. Robyn Silverman

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” — John Maxwell

Wishing you a powerful month of trying new things, meeting new people, and courageously standing up for what you know is right and fair.


Dr. Robyn introduces the Powerful Word of the Month: Courage! is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System