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Your children learn about hate when you become angry, upset, annoyed – when you have negative feelings toward them. They also learn these emotions from brothers and sisters and from friends.

Children sometimes say, “I hate you,” as a reaction to discipline or not getting what they want. How should you react to this? First, remember “I hate you” is an expression used to label negative and angry feelings. Just as you let your child know when you are having negative feelings toward him, he should be allowed to let you know about his negative feelings toward you. Acknowledge your child’s feelings by looking at him and listening to what he is saying without comment or gesture. Or, you can say, “I hear what you are saying. You are very angry and upset with me, and feel like you hate me right now.” You never deny his feelings. Yes, he does feel that way; he really does hate you. It is appropriate to ask, “Do you hate me a little or a lot?” to help him express his feelings in proportion to the intensity.

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