Yes, your three-year-old may say this: “I don’t love you,” or “I love Daddy better than you.” This may upset you, even though you know they’re still young and don’t know what they’re saying. However, you’re curious and undoubtedly want to know why they said it. And you don’t want to stop there; you’re also looking for healthy ways to deal with it.
Why Do They Say “I Don’t Love You”?
- They may say this because they’re worried about something; because you aren’t paying attention, they show their anger toward you and tell you they don’t love you.
- Your child doesn’t know how these words affect you; as far as you’re concerned, it’s just a type of self-expression.
- They may express their dislike for you because they’re momentarily angry. This is why they’re upsetting you with their expressive energy and verbal capability.
- Saying this may be an attempt to get your attention and affection, nothing else. Your child is bargaining with you without realizing it.
What Do You Say to Them?
- You get upset if someone says “I don’t love you.” So—what if it’s your child? Still, stay calm. Don’t scream in their face and don’t chastise them.
- Always remind yourself that children love their parents unconditionally. If you take this comment seriously, they won’t be able to understand this. So try to separate the bond that unites you from the comment resulting from their temporary emotion.
- Check to see if your child is saying “I don’t love you” to get something they want. This is considered a sort of emotional blackmail, and you don’t have to put up with it. If they do that, for example, to get chocolate before lunch, don’t give in but explain to them why you’re saying no.
- Instead of asking them not to repeat it, set aside some special time to address the reasons for their worry or dissatisfaction. Talk to them about it and explain the reasons for your behavior that angered them. They may understand.
- Answer them only by saying, “And I love you a lot.” This may defuse their emotion and help them recognize the mistake they’re making.