We’re still caught up in an epic battle with the hate word. We’ve tried a variety of different methods for dealing with it, including all the ways you guys suggested. And thank you, I was dying for advice and it was great to see so much support come in.
What seemed to work, for a short, short time, was taking it VERY seriously. Acting very hurt and angry. Making him sit in his room and think about it for a while. But, then he started acting out at school. Bigtime. So, lesson learned. Anger won’t get us anywhere. But neither does acting like our feelings are hurt. That only seems to fuel it, really.
When he started freaking out at school, we got called in to talk about it (THE HORROR) and their basic stance on it is, let the kid say it. It’s just a word, after all. One that’s hard to hear from our flesh and blood, but just a word nonetheless.
If they are able to freely say it at home, an environment where they feel safe in pushing their boundaries, then they’re less likely to start saying it outside of home, to friends, etc.
If they do what the preschool teacher called a “drive-by”, where they just walk by and insult you: “I hate you.” “You’re stupid.” “You’re ugly.” with no real provocation, then that you can be upset about. Tell them you’re hurt, and it’s not a good word to use. But, if it’s in the heat of a denied-a-second-dessert fueled tantrum, then let it go.
And this might all sound like we’re being a little soft, but really it has been working. Sort of. He still says it. And it slips out at school once in a while. But, it has ebbed a little bit. And sometimes when I act all hurt and sad, he will quickly add, “I love you.”
I talked to a lot of other parents at preschool, and it seems like all of the kids are going through or have gone through the exact same thing. Which oddly makes me feel a lot better. There is a light at the end of this hate tunnel.