Ever get that feeling that your kid hates you? Or maybe they left no doubt and actually said it! Parents question themselves. Its what we do.

What did I do? Did I say something? Is it just the consequence, or is it more than that? Will he/she grow out of this? Is this just a phase? Have I failed them?

First of all, you are not a failure. How do I know? Because you are reading this, and looking for solutions. If you were a failure, you would have already given up.

Kids say things, oftentimes, things they don’t mean. They’re just frustrated, which is meaningful. However, if they have said directly or behind your back that they do in fact hate you, then there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

So what are some reasons they might have said this? Well, let’s consider a few reasons. This is by no means a full listing of possible reasons, just ones I have heard a lot from clients.

How you talk

Believe it or not, your kids do pay attention when you talk to them. Maybe not exactly to the words you say, but definitely to how you say them. And they pay even more attention to what you do after they speak.

Does your kid feel heard? If they don’t feel heard, why should they listen to you? When they don’t listen to you, how do you feel?

If your kid feels like they words are routinely unimportant, not only does that have negative implications on your relationship with them, but also on how they might feel about themselves. What you have to say has a big impact on your kids.

How you behave

Your kids also pay attention to how you interact with them. They learn from that how to interact with and relate to others. So your modeling in the relationship is basically programming them for life. It’s that important.

Are you a hypocrite? Kids hate it when their parents don’t practice what they preach.

Are you kind to them or others? If you are buddy buddy with your kid but rude and condescending to the check out lady, which one do you think makes more of an impression?

Do you play favorites? If you do, they already know where they stand with you.

Are you predictable? If not, you are teaching your kids they can’t trust you.

How you accept them

We all look for acceptance in our lives. It could be at work, at home, or in our hobbies. We like to feel like we belong somewhere. Kids are the same, just more oriented toward home.

Does your kid feel accepted? Do they feel loved, just because they wake up and take a breath every day? Not based on their performance? If they don’t feel like you accept them for who they are, they will find someone who does… outside your home. If you don’t know how your kid feels, ask them.

How you believe in them

When we’re born, we don’t come with a knowledge and command of emotions and boundaries, as well as a whole host of other things. One of the ways we begin to thrive then is through others believing in us. “Come on, you can do it” is the encouragement a baby needs when taking their first steps. This continues throughout the development of a child.

Are you their cheerleader? Do you believe in their ability to do ___ ? Not blindly, something important that they are capable of. Patronization does not work. If your kid does not feel like you believe in them, why should they believe in themselves? And if they don’t believe in themselves, why should they attempt anything. They give themselves the label of ‘loser’ or ‘failure’.

Ok, Todd, so if my kid hates me what do I do?

First, ask them if you haven’t already. Get a solid answer. They may hate you in general, or just specific things. You need to know.

Second, own it. If you do what they say, even just a little bit, admit to it. It should sound something like this, “You’re right. I do that and I shouldn’t. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”

Third, find out if there is more. You probably know some of the things they don’t like already, so ask about them. They may agree, or they might say, “Yeah, that doesn’t really bother, but ____ does.” Aha, new information.

Fourth, keep talking. You are on the road to mending the relationship. This may spark a whole series of conversations related to this subject or virtually anything else.

The bottom line is, whatever answers you get, you and your kid are talking about it. You have to start somewhere.


Todd has been a therapist for over 20 years in a variety of settings. An unconventional therapist who tells the truth, Todd has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses, and authored his first book, Simply Relate.

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