Being a parent means worrying every day for the rest of your life, even when there isn’t anything to actually worry about at the moment. You worry whether or not you are providing your child with enough love and attention, if you are disciplining him enough to dissuade him from getting into too much trouble when he’s older and how you can keep him safe forever. Something else you have to worry about is whether or not you are encouraging health self-esteem in your little one, and hearing your child utter the words, “I hate myself,” can break your heart and make you worry about whether or not you are responding in an appropriate manner.
You Are Not a Failure
It’s important to remember that even the best of us make comments like this at some point or another, and it really means nothing. How many times have you done something stupid and laughingly said, “Oh my goodness I hate myself right now!”? It’s important to remember this before you panic when hearing your child utter these words because it might be something he picked up from you in jest. You have not failed.
When your child utters these words it might be nothing, but you won’t know that until you listen to what he has to say. Hear him and acknowledge his feelings. Then tell him that he is a great kid and he cannot possibly hate himself. Acknowledge that bad things/mistakes/upsets happen in life and that it’s better to learn a lesson than it is to place the blame on himself.
Help Him Find a New Expression
The words your child speaks can become the words that implant themselves in his mind, so don’t forget to help him find a new word when he’s upset. For example, instead of saying he hates himself, encourage him to say, “I am so frustrated/angry/upset/disappointed right now.” This allows him to acknowledge and express his feelings without demeaning himself.