When children yell “I hate you!” strong emotions are certainly being expressed. Perhaps you just told your child “no” to something she requested so you know why she is upset. In this case, you may want to respond with something like “I know you’re angry and I want you to know I’ll always love you.” This shows empathy while avoiding arguing.
Responding with “Don’t you ever say that to me!” or “How dare you talk to me like that!” will fuel the fire. While we would prefer our children not to say “I hate you”, by demanding that they not say it we are setting ourselves up for a potential power struggle. We are also teaching them how to push our buttons!
If it’s unclear why our child said “I hate you!”, find out by asking “I hear you’re upset. What’s going on?” This response gives us the opportunity to better understand our child.
It can be hard not to get defensive and yell right back at our child. However, taking the high road will build a more positive relationship.