My Son NEVER Says "I Love You"

Taryn - posted on 10/03/2011 ( 33 moms have responded )

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My son is 3 years old and he never tells me, or anyone, "I love you."
He will tell me and other people that he loves them. If I ask him "do you love Grandma?" He will say yes. "Do you love me?" SOMETIMES he will say "Yes."

I ask him why he doesn't tell me he loves me. I tell him I love him all the time. He usually gives superficial answers like "Because you didn't bring me a present!" and silly little 3-year-old selfish phase responses.

I suppose I shouldn't be so upset, but it really bothers me. I don't know why he won't say it or what I can do to get him to say it. It's not like the other little phases he goes through, like constantly correcting me that he is a "big boy" and not a baby or being extra selfish. He's never said it, since he began talking. I just don't understand.

Can someone explain this? Or tell me what I can do to help get him to say it?

He doesn't see anyone tell me that they love me. My parents don't say it to me, although they do say it to him. I don't have a husband or boyfriend or anything that tell me "I love you". I can only assume he doesn't say it to me because he doesn't see other people say it to me, but it seems like a pretty flimsy hypothesis.

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JuLeah - posted on 10/04/2011

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Why do you need to hear it? Why do words that have no meaning for a three yr old, have such meaning for you? Love is seen in action, not words.



He is not selfish, he is three



I get needing to hear that from someone, but that person should never be your child. You can not use your child to meet your emotional needs - it does damage

Jane - posted on 10/05/2011

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Taryn - Please understand - No one is telling you that you are not a good mom or even not a good person. BUT three-year-olds, especially boys, do not say "I love you" typically, Some do if they see and hear other people in your life saying it to you, but most don't. The fact that he says "I know" means you are doing a good job as a mom. You just need to wait. Boys are not as verbal as girls. They DO stuff for you instead of say stuff to you. Eventually he will say it, but you may have to wait some twenty years to hear it.

In the meantime, you don't need to use nasty language. You seem to be expecting something from your son that three-year-old boys simply aren't designed to do.

Jane - posted on 10/03/2011

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"He doesn't see anyone tell me that they love me."

You got it in one. He doesn't see anyone say it to you, AND he has figured out that it matters to you so not saying it gives him a sense of control. Don't fuss at him about it or try to coerce him into saying it. Just keep telling him that you love him, and maybe, like my son, he will surprise you and say it when he is older (but only when I can't see his face and he can escape quickly).

Ceri - posted on 10/05/2011

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Humm perhaps a book on the topic that you can read? http://www.amazon.com/I-Love-You-So-Much... We LOVE that book it's called I Love You So Much. By Carl Norac. It's about a girl names Lola who has something to say, and does not know who to say her special words to. At the end she says Mommy Daddy, I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!! My son who is now four loves this book, and he says it just like the end of the book to me all the time. It is super special to us. Perhaps he is unsure how how to express his feelings. We are working on that with my son now. Talk about how things make you feel ect.... (also kids just know how to push your buttons they are smarter than you think!) We have always done thinks like who loves you? (son answers momma!) Then who loves mommy? (son answers: Cameron!). It's hard but I also agree with the other, don't depend on it from your child. Just as an adult has a choice to say the special words children do too. And the love between a child and parent is unconditional. Even though it's not spoken it is there. Just keep loving him and he will learn love and what it means.

Jane - posted on 10/04/2011

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Leave him be. If you keep saying it to him eventually he will say it to you. The more you push, the more he will figure it is a big deal, and the more he will resist. Especially at his age he wants control and you are giving him something he can use to control you.

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33 Comments

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Vanessa Jacky - posted on 10/30/2012

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I've already read a lot of great responses. But I think I have something to add to this discussion. Love is an abstract idea. Feelings are not as simple to explain or understand even to most adults. And some children, like my own son, needs to grasp something before he can express it fully. When children are first born, they're unaware of really being separate from you. Mommies and babie's are one. And I think that the separation happens over a long period of time. So what I'm getting at, is that your son telling you he loves you is like he telling himself that he loves himself. We can teach our children that they'll get a loving positive response when they say they love us. But as far as a three year old fully understanding feelings of love, the word is almost meaningless. A 3 or 4 or 6 year olds love doesn't need a word, it's already so much a part of their being relationship with you.

Marie - posted on 10/12/2011

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Well you have no boyfriend. How old are you and what kind of things do you like to do? Maybe we can date. I am single to.

Erica - posted on 10/11/2011

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Aww lady!.. I'm sorry this seems to hurt your feelings so. But i agree with another commentor. He's 3!.. Just leave him be. Of course he loves you! You're his mommy! I know how it can make you feel tho. Don't worry, I'm sure he'll say it when you least expect it. Gavin tells me, "Mommy you're too mean!" usually when i tell him "No" or when he's about to get bathed.. (He hates soap) and I admit it did sting a little hearing him say that, but then i remember that he is 4!! And i put his little butt in the bathtub and keep it moving!..lol.. Good luck doll!..:)

Erika - posted on 10/07/2011

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I am glad that you reached out and asked for help and advice. I am going to take a different approach and say this has nothing to do with your son and everything to do with you. The fact that this "really bothers you" is a huge concern. Kids model behavior not what we say. You mentioned how no one tells you that they love you and you don't have a boyfriend or a husband.

This is your problem not your son's and we can not expect a child to give you something he doesn't have a clue about especially if the adults around him don't seem to have a clue either. I don't mean that in a negative way. My prayer for you is that you work on loving you! And allowing this little boy to be a little boy and do what the other poster said, just keep telling him you love him. You now need to give yourself what you are not getting. I hope that helps.
Erika

Neilene - posted on 10/06/2011

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u just never stop saying i love u to him thats all he will trust me my son is 4 i been telling him since the day he was born that i loved him lots of times during the day and the first time i heard it was april i think he has a speech impediment but he said n still says it today and now hes says when he gets in trouble u dont love me no more lol but of course i tell him i love u too much lol soo dont worry he will say it for sure he feels it with actions and thats how hes saying it now, i have my early child hood education they dont know really understand why u say those words they dont see the out come but if it comes with a hug n a kiss or while ur just sitting there he will understand its a feeling then u will hear it. You would not believe how much he loves u trust me ur his world and everything :D

Sherri - posted on 10/06/2011

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I have to say I respectfully disagree with Jane. Boys I find more than girls do say I love you my little one does it often. I find MOST do.

However, with that being said all children are different as long as he is showing it with hugs and kisses the words really don't mean much. A hug and a kiss at this age means the same thing as the actual words.

Erica - posted on 10/06/2011

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My son was exactily like this at three. He'd even tell me go away, i don't like you, i don't want you..etc. It was his way of being in control. And, like you, it upset me, and he knew it. I finally let it go. I know he loves me. Now that he's 4&1/2, I've seen a change in the last 3 months. He loves to tell me he loves me, and hold hands. I believe your son is pushing the boundaries and liking having the control. Give it time, he'll grow out of it. Good Luck.

Jill - posted on 10/06/2011

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he's only 3. it will come in time. my 4 year old and i have a little game where she says, "mom, i love you..." and i say, "i love you too...." and then she'll say, "ok, now you say 'I love you...." she wants to say the "too" part. so we make it a game. but she wouldnt have started that if i hadnt taught her what to say. your son loves you! i'll bet her follows you around, wants you to snuggle with him, play a game with him and he watches everything you do. that is love too!

Takatso - posted on 10/06/2011

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he knows you love him and that should be enough for now. He'll end up saying it without meaning if you force him to say it. Keep on telling him and eventually he will say it and don't put a time frame on it cause you might have to wait a while.

Shirley - posted on 10/05/2011

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I normally say I love you to my 6 year old when she is falling asleep. Sometimes I do that in the middle of her dream. She will not reply, only nods. That's enough for me, because it shows that deep down her heart she loves me.

Sharon - posted on 10/05/2011

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I think he understands the motions, more than the words when it comes to saying I love you. Everytime he wants you to console him, or cuddle him, or kiss him, he's saying he loves you.
Our eldest is 23mths, so doesn't understand the verbal part of I love you, but he tells us me, hubby and his little brother in 100 different ways each day.

Tinker1987 - posted on 10/05/2011

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Being that he is 3 he may not comprehend "love" feelings. or act on them. maybe your more sensitive because i see you mentions your parents dont say it to you,so your feeling bad over that? Everyone deserves to be told they are loved. try not to take it personal with your son. he so little.he will show the love when he gets older!!

Megan - posted on 10/05/2011

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There's nothing wrong with him not saying it. He's 3 and well they really only think of themselves and what they want to do and say. Heck my son is 5 and says he hates me when I tell him no or punish him for being bad, we just tell him that's not nice and then he responds with "oh yeah? well i really don't like you right now" then we tell him that we don't really like his attitude at the moment and when he can talk like a good boy and stop using ugly words than he can get out of time out. He calms down says he's sorry and I love you and then 5 min later he swats his brother...lol Kids are just kids and they say what seems good to them at the time. He'll say I love you as he gets older don't worry about it.

Chris - posted on 10/05/2011

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You are stressing over NOTHING. He is 3 and has no concept of this...coupled with the fact you are trying to get him to say it. Let him figure it out on his own...there's nothing wrong with him.

Elfrieda - posted on 10/05/2011

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If it isn't a big tense thing in your house already, one thing that might work is just teaching him what to say, just like you teach "please" and "thank you". Tell him, "When Mommy says, "I love you" then you say 'I love you, too!' and then we give each other a big bear hug! Let's practice now!"

I had to teach my toddler to kiss me. How else is he going to learn if I don't teach him? And I insist that he kiss both me and my husband every night before bed. (well, I encourage it, but if he's upset about going to sleep or something, then we kiss him instead and that's good enough. It's not meant to be a punishment, just a ritual.)

Tiffany - posted on 10/05/2011

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One - you cant force someone to tell you they love you.
Two - your kid doesnt realise he isn't doing something, or that he's "hurting you"

In fact, he isnt really thinking "I love you" means anything specific. I tell my daughter I love her and she says "love you too mama" but its just a response. Just like "thank you" when I give her something. There is no meaning behind it just yet. Its words that follow a statement.

SO that being said, dont freak because you think he doesnt love you. He just doesnt get the routine of saying I love you back when it is said to him. Give him time.

Veronica - posted on 10/05/2011

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I have 3 boys and my oldest and youngest say it to me all the time...but my 5 year old doesn't. I would say I love you and no response. Then one day about a month ago it was just him and I spending time together and out of nowhere he told me I love you mom...it melted my heart. He will say it on his own.

Indira - posted on 10/05/2011

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I went through a similar phase with my son. A friend told me to tickle and play to bond better. I also had to insist that he responds with "I love you". Initially, it felt like I was being authoritative but my son has bonded well and no longer shy away from such statements.
Also, I had to clarify that his thinking was selfish - basically, he could be storing up unhappiness. So drag him into love!!!

Lisa - posted on 10/05/2011

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My son is almost 3 and just like your son. The only time he really ever says "I love you." is if he is repeating it exactly as I say it to him. From what I can tell it is pretty normal and he is very affectionate otherwise, so I do not worry much about the words. I tell him and show him I love him and he is affectionate towards me and his daddy and sister (when he is not fighting with her at least). So I think things are alright.

Pamela - posted on 10/05/2011

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Why are you so concerned about this? Surely you are more emotionally mature than to be concerned about a 3 year old expressing his love aloud to you.



If you are not go look in the mirror and say. "I LOVE YOU". If you can't do that, how do you expect others to love you? If you CAN do that then you don't NEED to hear a 3 year old express that aloud to you.

Katie - posted on 10/05/2011

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My son doesn't say it either, but I think it's just his personality. He shows me in other ways, like giving me random hugs and kisses, wanting to sit next to me. My older son says it all the time, but doesn't give the random acts of love as much. It could just be his personality....look at the other ways in which he shows you how much he adores you. We are always telling people that actions speak louder than words...
I wouldn't fret to much over it.
:) Katie

Genevieve - posted on 10/05/2011

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I have 2 boys now 4 & 5 years old. Before I tell them I love you and they won't respond so I would say "What you don't love mommy? Waaaa!" I would pretend to cry. They know I'm pretending. Then they would say "Ok, ok, we love you mom." Now when I put them to bed I just say I love you guys and they each say I love you too. Maybe you can try it and see if it works fo you.

Alexandra - posted on 10/05/2011

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i would keep saying it to him. yes, don't expect him to tell you he loves you like the way an adult would say to you. sooner or later he will tell you he loves you. and if he doesn't it's ok, you know he does love you. later in his life he will remember you love him because you are always telling him.

Michele - posted on 10/05/2011

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My middle son's response when I said I love you was, "I know" too. He very carefully told me one time that he knew our love was understood. My saying it was for my benefit. He knew I loved him and he loved me. It was far deeper for him than words. I have never forgot how wonderful that was to see it his way. Kids teach us a lot.

Sammy - posted on 10/05/2011

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Taryn, You sound like a good and loving mother. Your son will eventually tell you that he loves you without any coaxing from you. I can relate to how you feel though. When my daughter was that age she never called me mommy or said I love you to me either but that was mostly because of my mother. Babies are very amazing at times and will repeat what they hear others saying. Since he doesn't hear anyone saying it to you he probably thinks right now that he doesn't need to say it either. Perhaps if you talk to your parents and let them know how you are feeling they can help out some by saying I love you to you when they see you.

Give it time and he will say I love you to you as much as he can everyday.

Krista - posted on 10/05/2011

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Watch it with the personal attacks, or I will lock this thread.

Krista E.
WTCOM Moderator

Taryn - posted on 10/04/2011

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He will not say "I love you" whether I say it or not. I tell him I love him all the time. He doesn't respond or says "I know".

Katherine - posted on 10/03/2011

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Do you mean he doesn't voluntarily say it? Because my 6 year old hardly ever says it to me unless I say it first.

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