What to do when 3 year old says "I don't love you?"

Lori - posted on 08/12/2011 ( 11 moms have responded )

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Hi Moms... My 3 year old says he doesn't love us when he gets mad. Does this happen to other people? My older kids never did this. He is a good kid most of the time, but is very emotional. Not always sure how to discipline him... any ideas on how to hanlde when he says mean things?

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Jenni - posted on 08/12/2011

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I'm beginning to think your son and my son are a lot alike. Although, my son hasn't said negative things to me.... yet. But he is very strong-willed and very emotional.

Discipline involving techniques to appropriately deal with strong emotions help. Teaching him to take 'breaks from the action' when he is overwhelmed with emotions. How to count to 10 when he is angry or upset or breath through his strong feelings. Teaching and encouraging him to use his words to express himself will all be helpful tools.

And this one is REALLY tough especially with highly emotional children. Keeping your own emotions in check in the midst of it. I find it difficult sometimes not to reflect his emotions or seperate his behaviour from my own feelings about it. But you have to look at it as... "he just needs my guidance to help him learn how to act appropriately" or look at his negative behaviours as an *opportunity* to teach him a lesson or teach him a tool that will help him in the future.

As for the mean words. I would tell him, calmly: "Those are mean words that hurts mommy's feelings. I love you very much." And that is all. He says it to get your attention. Children don't care how they get attention or whether or not that attention is negative or positive. So for the most part just don't give him the reaction he is seeking and he will learn it is an ineffective way to get your attention. Make sure you praise him for positive things he does to get your attention and ignore the negative ones (as long as they aren't causing damage or harm to others or property).

You can also try giving him the appropriate words to say he isn't happy you aren't allowing him to do something. I assume that's when he usually says it? When he says he doesn't love you. You could say: "You're not happy that Mommy won't let you..." If you repeat it often enough when he says that to you. While not overreacting to it. He will eventually replace those words with the more appropriate words to express that feeling.

Hope this helps, Good luck!

Charlene - posted on 08/12/2011

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This is very typical human behavior. Even adults do it or at least think it in the moment. I would just tell him that you're sorry he feels that way but you still love him. You can tell him that when he says that it hurts your feelings or makes you feel sad but always let him know what he did wrong and that you love him. He may even cry and feel bad after and tell you he didn't mean it and he does love you. I know it's hard to hear but know he doesn't really mean it. It's his way of lashing out. Be tough and redirect him and he'll grow out of it. Better at 3 than at 16!

Carolee - posted on 08/12/2011

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I tell my son, "That's okay. I still love you." He always comes back later and tells me that he loves me.

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Katharine - posted on 08/12/2011

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The very first time my son said "I don't love you" to me It did hurt my feelings and tugged at my heart. I did what Carolee told her kid "I still love you anyway" later Austin came and apologized to me said "sorry mommy" we kissed and hugged.

Bonnie - posted on 08/12/2011

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All kids say it at some point, but at this age, it probably doesn't mean anything; most kids don't know what love is. They just say it because we say it to them all the time. And when they are mad of course they are going to say something hurtful.

Eva Marie - posted on 08/12/2011

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just say "Ok your angry and really don't mean it BUT I will always Love you even when you say you do not love me "than say I LOVE YOU

Tcordukes - posted on 08/12/2011

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My daughter did this alot to me when her dad was away for work. (army) she would say things like I HATE you, I want my daddy, etc. I just say thats ok sweetheart because I love you! then I leave it.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/12/2011

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Yeah every now and again i hear that from my 5 year old. I just tell him it is a "heart hurt" and that I love him very much. Then just ignore it.

Tara - posted on 08/12/2011

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My daughter will be 4 in March and she does this occasionally when she is angry with me. I really try not to take it to heart because I know in the end she doesn't really mean it.
What I've done when she says something like that is tell her that it is okay for her to be angry with me, but it hurts my feelings if she says things like that. I have told her that if she is angry with me it is okay for her to tell me "Mama, I'm mad at you because...." It's really helped because it gives her an outlet for her frustration.

Amanda - posted on 08/12/2011

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My 22 month old daughter tells me she doesn't like me and tells me to go away. I don't take much notice of it.
If he says it when he's mad its probably just because he's mad and his way of venting his frustration.

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