Updated: Aug 19
When Your Teenager Says
“I Hate You” It Hits Home Hard Yea?
So What Can We Do When Teenagers Say To Us “I Hate You”
What would be your response or the keys to parenting teenagers successfully in this situation?
This is one of the most hurting moments for any parent.
Fortunately for parents of teenagers, we have identified 5 Super Effective Ways To Respond when your teenager says “I hate you” or other bunch of nasty words they sometimes decide to use.
When you began parenting, I am sure you did not envisage or plan that one day, after all the work you put into this young-being, they would turn around and say I hate you.
I am sure the image in many parents minds is that of parenting successfully even if they don't get acknowledged or receive a medal. But to be told “I hate you” this can slice any parent into little painful shreds.
Now that your lovely young person is a teenager, everything about you is annoying, embarrassing or infuriating. Everything and anything you like, you do, you wear, you say, or even how you look, is annoying to them. They can't stand being around us. It’s like we’ve got or are some prickly something walking around.
Then comes the day when the words come out.
' I hate you.'
It hits you like a stinging slap in the face.
What just happened?
You begin to wonder where you went wrong.
Do I deserve this?
A thousand questions with no answers run in your mind.
Can I say to you right now, that; you are not alone, and you have done nothing wrong.
Let’s have a look at what exactly is happening when your teenager tells you “I hate you” and how you can deal with it positively and peacefully.
Parenting teenagers successfully and peacefully even when they tell us they hate us.
Did you know that this behaviour is normal and in fact common?
Believe me as a parent of teenagers and a professional who has worked with teenagers for over twenty years and spoken to hundreds of parents in tears telling me that their teen just said the words “I hate you”
Parenting teenagers is a whole new ball game, a whole new challenge. Let’s not beat bones about it. To parent teenagers successfully requires we adopt transformational parenting style. When people suggest we use tactics that worked for children and claim they work for kids 2 -17, you and I know know deep in our hearts that this is not the case.
In psychological research we know that teenagers’ brain and behaviour is a lot different from five-year-olds. Besides, common knowledge reveals to us every day that young children and teenagers are different. Therefore parenting strategies and styles for each group must be different - this is not some secrets only revealed known to scientists, no! Its known by all of us.
Teenagers are at a different level of development, with so much changing and shifting. We just cannot continue parenting teenagers as we did when they were younger children.
So, let’s agree that as parents of teenagers we have to step up a whole notch and understand what really is happening in our teenagers’ brains.
During teenage years, teenagers are discovering how to become independent individuals and are truly separating themselves from the parents.
Teenagers are questioning the values and beliefs that you taught them when they were younger. They are evaluating these beliefs against what they observe from the wider world around them. They shift from loving absolutely everything about you and relying on you for everything, to asserting their independence and individuality.
This age can get very challenging, murky and messy. However, if parents act as transformational parents and manage the process safely with the right parenting strategies, the mess can be modified and moulded, and prevent teenagers from meandering thoughtlessly away.
Successfully parenting teenagers can be achieved by directing and guiding them towards safer and more secure ways of behaving and being.
Although it may not seem like it, these teenagers are still your beloved children - just a little bit bigger, more irritable, irrational and emotional versions of themselves. The struggle is real at the “in-betweeners region” where they are not little children neither are they adults.
Just like every human being, teenagers, no matter how they push to prove they don’t need us, they have a need and desire to be loved, respected, heard and understood. They may not always get it right in the way they express these needs to be heard and understood, but these needs remain basic need for them.
Although parenting teenagers is a most challenging time, you can make this your time to shine and successfully parent your teenager,
So how can you successfully and peacefully parent your teenager even when they tell you they hate you?
Here are 5 Super Effective Ways To Respond To When Your Teenager Says, "I Hate You”
1: Re-Lay the groundwork.
Ideally, teaching kids to be respectful and not nasty should have started in early childhood and for most parents we already do this anyway.
But, in kicks the teen years and the game changes. We must re-lay the groundwork again. This time as parents of teenagers. Be ready for deep questioning. They will ask you why they must do as you suggest and we must ready to provide reasons and back whatever we say or require them to do with sound rationale.
You may be thinking “surely this is not what I taught them” and indeed being rude and obnoxious is possibly not what you taught them.
But this is not the time scroll through what you did and did not do.
This is a time to have that chat about baseline expectations. This round a proper “grownup” discussion backing your expectations with reasons. Remember when they were younger, they probably just followed because they knew this made parents happy and they did it because mum or dad said so.
In teenage years though, teenagers are not interested in pleasing us. So, we must drop the hope that teenagers will act as we want to make us happy.
This just doesn't work anymore.
Instead what is going to work is SEB
1. State - state the expected behaviour clearly.
2. Explain - an explanation of why what you are suggesting is important and beneficial.
3. Backing it up - how will your family life will improve because of this and how the kid will benefit in the future too.
2: Don't take it personally
As parents of teenager, we often get caught off guard when our teens first roll their eyes and say nasty things including stating "I hate you" “you don’t know anything", "you have no idea about such and such.”
Now if you the kind that gets offended at every minor challenge and take provocation personally, you are in for it whilst parenting teenagers.
There will be many occasions when teenagers go off-kilter. By getting offended you're in essence telling and announcing to your teenager that their behaviour rules and it so powerful it can destroy your day. So don’t give up your personal power over to your teenager.
Most times, when teenagers feel uncertain, they seek security by testing if their parents’ trust and love is secure.
When your teenager lashes out, they could simply be trying to find out if they can still trust you to be resilient and steadfast in supporting them. The way to reassure them and let them know that you are strong and supportive, is by not getting wound up by their every challenging behaviour.
This can be hard. But if you can garner and gather all your leadership tools together and your knowledge as a transformational parent and use these appropriately. Remember, you are within your rights to correct any dangerous or intolerable behaviour and implement effective consequences that have been predetermined or discussed for that unacceptable behaviour.
Just make sure you are not attempting to engage in discussions when you are boiling hot.
If you are feel angry, you may need to tell your teenager that you need a minute and this is ok. It demonstrates to the teenager that you are human, more importantly it shows them how to manage their anger, rage and violent emotions.
So, yes remove yourself from the situation, go take a walk, splash some water on your face and/or and calm yourself down before responding.
3: Set your support system in place
Parenting teenagers is no walk in the park. You need to ramp up your support system and team because this phase of parenting can often feel incredibly isolating. Parenting teenagers is no joke and many parents suffer in silence, needlessly, because they feel like something is wrong with them.
There is nothing wrong with you.
Even though one common phrase that teenagers use towards their parents is “what’s wrong with you” Just know there is nothing wrong with you.
Remember, parenting teenagers is a challenge that is happening in so many homes. The only reason we don’t get to hear about it is because many parents of teenager prefer to keep up appearances, they just won’t talk about their challenges for fear of being judged.
Some parents of teenagers especially those who have taken parenting classes in the past feel like they have failed somewhere. I am here to tell you that you haven’t failed!
You are now dealing at whole different league.
I’ll tell you something, even though I am not football savvy, a player with only local football level expertise cannot bring this to championship level and expect to make a mark. They have to up their game when they are playing at a higher level. Parenting teenagers is playing at championship level. You've got to not only know your game, but be sharp and sleek.
Your parenting skills are under great pressure and you must sharpen them if they are going to be of any influence to your young person. You've got to parent at transformational parenting level.
You can join parenting classes specifically for teenagers. Even consider seeking that one to one session. Be in with other parents of teens who are experiencing the same stuff as you.
There are various benefits to joining transformational parenting classes.
Firstly, you get the reassurance that you are not the only one experiencing these challenges.
Secondly the mere action of taking a step towards receiving support can be very empowering as well as therapeutic.
You honestly are not alone in this journey. At Raising Remarkable Teenagers, our parenting teenagers’ programs offer support at various levels; including
Ask Angie Weekly Sessions.
Monthly online subscription where you have access to hundreds of online resources to access at your own time.
Monthly webinars where I teach new lessons in line with the pressing questions and new research.
Transformational Parenting Master classes (intensive 4 week classes, offered online).
You may also want to spend time away with your partner and friends and we organise these breaks. You go away and look after yourself. These self care breaks can be very therapeutic and can be a time for you to rediscover your passions and interests beyond your role as a parent.
The 4th Super Effective way how to respond to when your teenager says I hate you, is your presence.
4; Presence, being physically and emotionally available
This can be a hard ask, right after your teenager has declared they hate you. It's however essential to be still, stay calm and be present. As we said earlier teenagers sometime use these deathly declarations to test how secure they are with us and test our love for them.
Even if you will not have a full-blown conversation or discussion with them, assure them that you are there for them and that they can talk to you if they need to, but this will have to be when they are calm.
Being present doesn’t mean you take this as an opportunity to force them to tell you their thoughts and feelings. Avoid coaxing and coercing and wait for them to volunteer and tell you, and if they don’t, they don’t.
Let them know you still love them and have positive hope for them and in them, and that they can trust you. Teens will often share their feelings and experiences with you when they feel safe and comfortable and it is up to us as parents of teenagers to make ourselves approachable, non-threatening and trustworthy. This can take time, but don’t give up too soon.
Consider taking a walk with your teenager and adopting what has sometimes been referred to as 'parallel position' – where they do not have to make eye contact and feel less under the spotlight and less pressure feeling judged. This position can help relieve the anxiety they sometimes feel when talking about their issues.
For example, you can sit alongside each other in a field or on swings in a park, in a car. Anywhere you know you do not have eye contact would do be appropriate for this exercise.
The final and 5th Super Effective way to respond to when your teenager says I hate you, is to know that...
5: It will pass
When your teenager has just told you “I hate you” you may feel like this will last for eternity. When you are in the thick of it, you don't see an end in sight. But I promise you it will pass. It does. As your teenager navigates teenagerhood and establishes their individuality and if you have continued and consistently supported them, they will warm up to you again.
As their brain evolve, the hormonal rhythm will settle down and they will become more controlled and self-managing young people although this can go on up till age of 25.
When they are better able to regulate their emotions and have established they are secure with you, everything will start to feel less intensive and dramatic for both of you.
And that is why it is very important as a parent of teenager to adopt transformational parenting style, to be calm and controlled so that that we do not make any conclusions or long-term drastic decisions based on out teenagers’ short-term behaviour and challenges.
All said and done, teenagers are incredible human beings. Having worked with them for so many years and having my own I cannot begin to tell you the wealth of wisdom you gain and glean from just leaning in and listening to them.
Teenagers are witty, smart, quirky, generous and young hearts that need a bit of TLC. They are desperate to be loved and validated at a time when they are experiencing identity crisis and learning to be autonomous and independent individuals.
If we support them strongly and safely at this stage, they will learn to navigate the big wide world confidently and independently without having to rely on us. They may come back to us now and then but may only come back to pick our brains to enhance their journeys, but not come back to us because they are incapacitated.
©Angela Karanja | Child Psychologist, Educator, Researcher| July 2020
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Raising Remarkable Teenagers website and products are managed by Angela Karanja; Psychologist, Researcher, Educator and Parent.
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