My son tells me and everyone "I don't like Mommy" - What is happening!?

Calen - posted on 08/08/2014 ( 3 moms have responded )

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My son is 3 and about 2 weeks ago started saying "I don't like you Mommy". I know that when I have just told him no, or that if he is upset or mad about something, this can be normal and he is working through a negative emotion that he cant express properly. What hurts me is the fact that he does not say it at these times. He says it at what appears to be random moments. His Nana telling him Mommy is on the phone "I don't like Mommy", when it is time to go home "I don't like Mommy, no no", or when we are snuggled on the couch "I don't like you Mommy".
The absolute worst moment came when right after playing a vigorous game of Ninja's, we were settling down and he runs up to me, grabs my face in his hands and shouts "I DO NOT LOVE YOU".
I don't understand what is happening. Is this a phase? Have I failed him in some way? Does he truly not like/love me deep down?
I am a single mother, working full time and I have lupus. I spent the first 6 months of his life in and out of the hospital, and missed the most important bonding time. For the first 3 years we lived with my parents, who consistently undermined me in front of him, or would jump to his every need in order to "let me rest" or because (in my mothers case) they want to be the one that is there. On a side note, this had gotten so bad, that I sometimes felt my son would confuse my mother with being his mommy and his mommy being the big sister. And this is how I felt. I worried constantly that with my mother constantly taking over, there was no room left for me to be the mommy.
We moved out on our own 4 months ago, and I have been working hard to instill a deeper bond between us by setting up traditions, weekly fun things like Friday Movie Night, and making sure we have ample play time together.
My son is affection and very loving. He is always a happy little boy, always smiling and trying to make others laugh. He tries very hard to make others happy. He is constantly giving me kisses, hugs or saying "I love you." And then this starts.
I am heart broken and am unsure what is going on or how to handle it. Any advice would be most appreciated! I am so lost.

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Dove - posted on 08/08/2014

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He sounds pretty normal for a young boy who has gone through so much upheaval in his short little life.... A sick mother... living w/ people who did not support your authority as his mother... and now moving out away from those same people....

You are doing fine. He DOES love you as you can tell when he is affectionate and telling you that he loves you, but he also has conflicting emotions and confusion still.

Stay consistent w/ boundaries (when he's doing it due to being in trouble), patient, and loving. I can't promise things will get better anytime soon, but just hang in there.

If his verbal skills are good you can try asking him WHY he says that... but he may still be too young to give a real answer. You can also always respond with... 'I'm sorry you feel that way right now, but Mommy will ALWAYS love you no matter what.'

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Archie - posted on 08/11/2014

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I just posted the same issue yesterday on this site. And sometimes even I get the same "I dont like Mommy" when I want him to get things done or he doesnt like what am telling him to do...and even I don't know what am i supposed to do especially when he starts yelling this in public.

But in your case I feel you have a lot of scope to change...I remember myself as a child had this problem of wanting to say something and the total opposite comes out of my mouth. Even my older kid has the issue. The mind registers it as "I love you" but the mouth speaks "I do not love you". In that scenario you can gently hug him tight and say I know you meant "I love you" . Gentle correction I think is all you need and also tell him through stories. You have a great kid who is loving and caring (in this day n age) so you definitely shouldn't feel he doesn't love you. The moments you mentioned when he does so...so reminds me of myself and my older kid doing it so many times.

Calen - posted on 08/11/2014

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Thank you! He is still too young to answer "Why," though I have tried. I will take your advice and hang in there. I think I wanted someone to tell me it was normal. Thank you for that.

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