Does my four year old hate me?

Does my four year old hate me?

Do you ever think you’re doing something lovely for the kids and it just ends being the total opposite? After school today, Oli and I had a few boring jobs to do in town and obviously we had to drag the boys along too. It was coming up to 5 o clock and everyone was getting a bit hangry so I suggested we grab some food from the shop and go to the park for a picnic and a play. Won’t this be a lovely treat for the boys, I thought. Is there a more perfect way to end a Monday than sitting on a blanket, munching yummy food in the glorious sunshine and then spending the evening playing on the slide and swings, I mused to myself as we filled our basket full of goodies in the shop. As it turns out, we should have just gone home, had tea at the table, watched the bedtime hour and done the bath, book, bed routine like normal. What happened to the perfect picnic in the park you ask? Well, it all went wrong and has left me feeling like my four year old hates me.

Does my four year old hate me?

Hate is such a strong and emotive word but if you had seen the way Leo behaved towards me and his Dad today, you would be thinking the same thing too. The picnic spread managed to keep Leo entertained for all of two minutes before he ran off to play on the slide, today has been absolutely scorching so Oli called Leo back over to pop some sun cream on. You would be forgiven for thinking that Oli had actually asked Leo if he could set all his beloved toys on fire the way my boy reacted. He went mental, completely ape shit to put it bluntly. There was screaming, biting, kicking, headbutting and another giant helping of screaming, just to make sure every single person in the park thought we were the worst parents ever for daring to try and protect his delicate skin from the boiling hot sun. Oli and I kept as calm as you possibly can when a four year old is trying to take chunks out of you but the way Leo behaved has got me thinking, does he even like us? Like, I’m pretty sure you don’t repeatedly hurt someone and scream at them if you care about them?

This morning he told me he wished I didn’t exist, that one hurt more than those bites did this evening. He tells me I’m ruining his life quite regularly, he asks me to  go away a lot and, whenever I ask him to do something, 95% of the time he’ll either huff like an indignant teenager or he will just flat out refuse to do it. The way he behaves sometimes  really makes me feel like he hates me, like he doesn’t give a single shit about me. The place he bit my hand still hurts now as I type, I can still hear his angry screams at us playing on a loop in my ears and I have anxiety and guilt churning around in my chest. I know kids play up, I know kids can behave badly at times and I know they don’t always like being told what to do. The way Leo reacted this evening though, and how he’s been behaving for weeks now if I’m honest, isn’t ok and I don’t know what to do.

does my four year old hate me

If I had to describe mine and Oli’s parenting style, I would say I fall into the ‘gentle parenting’ camp and Oli is a much more old school disciplinarian type: firm but fair. I don’t raise my voice to Leo and I have, of course, never raised a hand to him either. I give him choices and independence, I make sure he knows his feelings matter, I listen to him, I give him love and attention and I always make sure he knows how much he means to me but something needs to change. I don’t want to carry on thinking that my child hates me and just has zero respect for me, ignoring everything I say even when the things I’m saying are in his best interest. I don’t want to have to put my boy to bed while he’s in tears or have to see him being carried back to the car kicking and screaming because he’s being so badly behaved there is just no way we can stay in the park. I wish that right in this moment I wasn’t sat in bed feeling like I’ve failed in some way and that my four year old hates me.

Deep down I do know that he does love me really, I’m his one and only Mummy. Right now though, with this evenings disaster playing over and over in my mind, I just feel like he doesn’t love his Mama that much after all and he’d happily replace me for someone else if they’d always let him misbehave and get his own way. It’s amazing how what was supposed to be a lovely family outing can turn into something so shit so quickly, isn’t it?

Have you ever felt like your child hates you? How do you cope in situations like this?

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does my four year old hate me

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  1. June 26, 2018 / 10:26 am

    I don’t think he hates you, I suspect he is struggling with some emotions from the move. Once he feels a bit more settled I’m sure he’ll calm down. Ellie had a bad month when we moved this year and we only moved half a mile down the road. The only thing different was the house.
    It may be worth being a bit firmer for a little while when the adverse behaviour rears it’s head and then give him the chance to calm down and try and articulate what is really going on.
    Good luck. But he doesn’t hate you x x

  2. June 26, 2018 / 2:11 pm

    I think he is trying to explore his boundaries hun and as hard as it is to take on the chin, I think he is pushing you maybe because you are the gentle one? I agree with Kirsty about being a bit firmer but it’s so hard because dealing with their big emotions whilst trying to stay calm and not get upset yourself is easier said than done! Sending strong mama vibes to you lovely xoxo

  3. June 26, 2018 / 4:23 pm

    I’m sure he loves his mama very much but just going through a difficult phase. I suppose kids are like the rest of us, when we are having a bad day we take it out on those closest to us.

  4. June 26, 2018 / 4:47 pm

    Agree with what others are saying … He loves both of you but is finding it difficult to process strong emotions. It’s a challenging stage but, hopefully, if you agree between yourselves clear boundaries and enforce them consistently, that might help you navigate your way though this. Sending hugs

  5. June 26, 2018 / 5:49 pm

    Omg I wrote a really long reply and it’s gone…
    I want to hug you right now lovely…it will be ok.
    Wendy….my son was exactly like yours. Exactly. That scene at the park could have been me hun. The tantrums were epic and I realise that it wasn’t him or our parenting style. It was a combination of hunger, tiredness and the fact that he is a sensitive soul who is bright and a bit of a perfectionist. So in your scenario, my son would have seen the swings and that is what he wanted. He was blinkered to that activity. Asking him to put on suncream was not in his agenda! That, accompanied with hunger and being tired would have made him flip, big style! I used to find that giving choices helped a little so, do you want to put on suncream now or after one slide down the slide? Or anything competitive like…let’s see if you can run to the swing and back before I’ve got the suncream in my hand. Interesting my son doesn’t remember those tantrums. At all. He is now a calm, well adjusted young man -he is confident and settled. The other thing that has really helped my son is sport; he needs it to get rid of energy. Good luck. Remember he does these things, not because he hates you but because he loves you (and you can do this thing!). Xxx

  6. June 26, 2018 / 8:15 pm

    My son used to behave appalling when he was 4 and had just started school. I blamed it on the tiredness, but looking back we had twin girls 4 months before he started school and his little brother was only 2 so we were all a bit of a mess. One of his sisters was sick and had to keep having operations and so I was super stressed and then in the middle of all that he had to start school. Hardly the best timing…. Anyway my point is that they really struggle to explain how they are feeling when stuff is/ has changed and I think this is maybe how it comes out, but I do also think tiredness does play a huge part. It is impossible sometimes to believe that the little baby your nurtured and loved so very much could ever treat you that way, but he doesn’t hate you anymore than you hate him. In fact I will bet he never treats anyone else as badly as you and that is because they can trust us to deal with their emotions. It sucks for us though!! Hang in there it will get better xx #DreamTeam

  7. June 27, 2018 / 9:58 am

    I parent very similarly to you and I have felt like this a few times. I think four is a really really hard age, much harder than it’s ever been before. I’m going to try out some love bombing techniques with Dil and see if it helps. He definitely doesn’t hate you xx

  8. June 27, 2018 / 11:38 am

    It’s so hard, isn’t it? They seem to get to four and then wham! All these emotions come crashing in and they don’t know how to handle them. Our little man has been very difficult recently. I have never known a five-year-old with the attitude that he has had, and we have tried everything. It can really bring you down. But I do know for sure that he doesn’t hate you. Quite the opposite I’m sure. I hope things improve for you lovely and in the meantime know that you aren’t alone. Thanks for sharing with #TriumphantTales

  9. June 27, 2018 / 2:46 pm

    The funny thing is kids often explode with parents simply because, deep down, they know they can! And they and you will survive the onslaught. Kids do, I think hate us while they hate us, and then they don’t. At all. We are expected to be there to pick up the emotional pieces and help them sort it all out. A thankless job. You bet! #Triumphanttales

  10. June 27, 2018 / 8:16 pm

    I don’t think you are alone in feeling like this sometimes. At my lowest moments, I’ve sometimes thought that my son thinks of me as some sort of skivvy, the woman who just brings food and changes nappies. He’d sometimes hit me and bite me. He’d bang his head into the floor whenever I asked him to do something or encouraged him to do an activity.

    …. He’s two.

    These were fleeting thoughts but when you feel like you’re the parent that they don’t listen to it’s easy to get swept up in it. It’s not unusual. I know he doesn’t hate me. In fact, it’s the opposite. He loves me so much it wouldn’t occur to him that I was hurt by anything. I don’t think four is any different in some respects. They have no understanding as an adult would (ahem, some adults) of how their words and behaviour can hurt. They’re also a raging torrent of emotions and conflicting thoughts that they haven’t mastered yet. In the moment they can convince themselves of anything, then quickly forget. To be fair I’m the same with PMS.

    Things will improve. All this will pass. Have you tried swapping approaches with your partner and see if that makes any difference? I sometimes things kids push the limits where they know they can, and to be fair they can most of the time with most of us because we’re their parents. It’s not like we can go anywhere!


  11. June 27, 2018 / 9:46 pm

    Parenting can be so tough. We’ve all had times when we question our parenting methods and our childs attitudes. I know I certainly have. Things will get better. Trust in yourself that you’re a good parent but never be too afraid to seek guidance and support. Fingers crossed things will settle down quickly for you.

  12. June 27, 2018 / 10:15 pm

    Believe me, you are not alone. Our son is four and at times he’s unbearable. We get stomping, huffing, screeching and hitting the walls if we ask him to do something he doesn’t want to do. Worse still is when he’s tired. We keep having to remind ourselves he’s 4 and still coping with emotions he doesn’t yet understand. This too shall pass, is what I keep telling myself.

  13. June 28, 2018 / 12:59 pm

    Popping back over from #coolmumclub it sounds like you’re getting some really good responses, advice and insights here hun thanks for linking up xoxo

  14. June 28, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    Don’t take it personally as hard as it is not too. I totally get where you are coming from as I have a real headstrong 3 yr old and he can be very hard work! It will pass. Tomorrow will be a better day. x

  15. June 28, 2018 / 8:53 pm

    Popping back from #coolmumclub. X

  16. June 29, 2018 / 8:33 pm

    I’m very very sure Leo doesn’t hate you – most kids are mean to their parents and can play up when they are adjusting to big changes. Just always be there for him 🙂

  17. June 29, 2018 / 9:56 pm

    I have a 3.5 year old who can show these reactions. He has also been getting very angry and we had one night when he wouldn’t let me near him at bedtime which was horrid. I thought we were having 2 year old tantrums late but it seems we are experiencing 4 year old behaviour early! My son has SPD and he finds change hard, so to eat out spontaneously like that would be a challenge for him. We did similar on a post nursery day and regretted it. He was too tired, too excited so wouldn’t eat, became over stimulated and then didn’t want to go to bed. Sometimes routine and familiarity is best. #coolmumclub

  18. June 30, 2018 / 8:19 pm

    That’s so hard – I don’t have any advice except to remember that he really does love you, even though he doesn’t act like it sometimes. Kids can be so challenging with their behaviour and it sounds like you handled it more calmly than I would have! #coolmumclub
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  19. July 1, 2018 / 10:06 pm

    It’s probably a communication issue that he just can’t get across what he’s feeling at the time (although sometimes it’s obvious what’s triggered it even if there’s no seeming reason why it would).

    I think removing treats/things he enjoys would likely work (although mine did start to retort ‘I don’t care if you do that’ – I think if it had happened he would have done). Otherwise removing him from the situation. We did the naughty step on the 2 occasions (although for a lot less than he’s doing) and he really didn’t like it, but he now knows the expectations up front and knew what the ramifications would be.

    Generally though N’s always been pretty good. I did have one really hurtful day when he was 5 when he turned round and said he hated me and didn’t want me as his mum. I responded back about how much that hurt and then cried. He didn’t expect that, it shocked him, and he ended up coming to find me and apologising then we were able to talk about communication and hurtful comments. We’ve never had anything since.

    Hope things calm down.

  20. July 1, 2018 / 10:34 pm

    I remember going through similar when my little boy was three. He would scream at me, punch me, kick me. He had told me he hated me. It was very upsetting. I would try not to react to it, we’ve always put him into the hallway for some quiet time when he is like that. Then he would bite himself. It was dreadful. One day I actually burst into tears and remember asking him if he hated me. He cried, obviously. I handled it very badly that day. I don’t have any answers, we found trying to talk to him helped and sometimes just hugging him, telling him it was OK to be angry or sad. They have so many emotions and they don’t know how to deal with them. Since he has been four it has been better and I can see it improving still as we approach five. I also know there will be times he just can’t cope – I’m in my 30’s and struggle sometimes. You’re doing great – he loves you dearly, he is just learning, it will get better #TriumphantTales

  21. July 2, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    I am so thankful we have not yet experienced this hate — and I know we will. It happens to us all. I dread it, and my Mrs., her skin is thin, she needs to toughen up before we hear such words. For now, we will rest on our laurels of sweetness, mostly! Hugs to you! #dreamteam xoxo

  22. July 3, 2018 / 2:26 am

    Well, I’m going to be honest with you and hope you know it is not at all intended as an attack on you, your child, or your family in any way. The excessive nature of his meltdown and the fact that he says such hurtful things at other times is a bit worrisome. I’ve worked with kids for 13 years, aged birth to 8 years old and that would be a red flag that something else may be going on. It could definitely be a phase, but if it continues much longer or gets worse, I would recommend you talk to his doctor and see if he would benefit from a children’s counselor. I know Leo doesn’t hate you, but he might have too many emotions to handle himself right now. #DreamTeam

  23. July 3, 2018 / 10:48 am

    Oh Wendy, it’s heartbreaking to read this. I know that feeling of frustration all too well – you plan something really nice for them and they throw it back in your face. It makes you wonder why you bother.

    Leo loves you. He’s probably still adjusting to your new surroundings – I imagine he’s acting out so that you can reassure him over and over again that your love for him will not change even if his home is different and his school is different and his friends are different. It’s probably also a way for him to express the feelings he has inside about not having control over moving house and worries about things being different. Asserting his independence at the park gives him back a sense of control.

    Having said that, it’s an awful stage to have to go through and my heart really goes out to you. He will get there, my lovely. Just try to keep holding on. #blogcrush
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