Son Says We Hate Him and Won't Admit It

Updated on November 20, 2013
C.T. asks from Red River, NM
26 answers

My 9 year old son is always battling us about things he does not want to do. Such as homework or going to an activity or even taking a shower. He is very dramatic and emotional about it. The last 2 weeks it seems like he is just arguing and refusing to do things every day...then it becomes a stand off of wills where he gets consequences. He throws a huge fit and it alarms me that he gets SO ANGRY. He now often says he hates himself. He wishes he'd never been born. He says he hates his life. He will say we (his dad and I) hate him and won't admit it. We try talking to him about it when he has calmed down. He will just say, well give me what I want (usually it's video game time) and then I won't get so upset anymore. He gets into this rage and says the most hurtful things. I thought he was maturing and getting better in life about dealing with things, but now I don't know. Does anyone have any advice or a child who was like this at this age? When he is not battling us he is a very personable, fun, happy kid. Saying these kinds of things is totally new. He's always been a roller coaster of feelings since he was part of this is his personality. I got a number of a child psychiatrist and am going to give her a call tomorrow.

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So What Happened?

We are not sure where he gets this language. His dad and I are very even keel...mellow people. We are very happily married. We both are very family focused and love to do fun things with our kids. We do not yell when we are talking to each other. Honestly, I don't even like to argue in front of the kids. We don't have a TV so it's not from watching shows. I would like to cut out all video games but my husband doesn't agree...he loves computers and his whole PhD centered around computer coding and modeling. I think our son is having a hard year...a hard teacher, difficulties with the new math, a hard time with kids on the playground so all this is adding stress.

Added: He does not play violent video games...he does like Minecraft where he builds things in "creative mode". He likes funny games. We have limits...3 days a week are no video games allowed. Wednesday is a half day of school here and he is allowed to play some in the afternoon once homework is done. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday he is allowed to play for a limited period of time. He just gets obsessed. I do agree if we had zero video games and zero computer time he would be an easier child. I will talk to my husband about it...and to the psychiatrist. I appreciate everyone's answers...thanks.

Featured Answers


answers from Columbia on

I'm with Julie. He sounds like he might be on the autism spectrum somewhere. My ex's son was just like you described, right down to the negotiations, and he has Asperger's. He simply deals with the world in a very different way. He used to say that his dad and I hated him on a daily basis, because he thought that was a tactic to get what he wanted. He'd rage and tantrum and be completely impossible to deal with at certain times, when he was refused something he wanted, or became frustrated with what he was doing.

I suggest talking to that psychiatrist and getting him in for an evaluation. He needs help with coping mechanisms for his anger and frustration, and you need tools for dealing with those situations in a way that will make sense for him.

Best of luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Please update us after seeing the child psychologist. My son can be like this too.

He is also 9 and Minecraft obsessed. He can only play from Friday afternoon through Sunday limited times each day.

He lost privileges last weekend and you would have thought it was the end of the world.

My son however has used the hates himself and wants to die words before, and we went to see a child psychologist who helped us retrain him on how to express his emotions using the correct vocabulary. (I am frustrated/angry/disappointed/ etc.) To him with his limited emotional vocabulary those were the only words he knew to describe what he was feeling because it felt so awful to him...but now he can describe disappointment (with himself or others) vs just that awful feeling that he "hates" himself.

Anyways, you are not alone!! Big hugs!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It sounds like he's transferring his anger about other things on to you which is very common. He may be having problems with kids at school but he doesn't know how to confront the problem directly. Start asking him how everything is at school...does he have friends? How does his teacher think he's doing? Maybe ask his teacher what is happening.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

Definitely see that counselor, it will help a lot.

I'm reading a really great book called "Masterminds and Wingmen," which is about the development and socialization of boys. It's from the author of "Queen Bees and Wannabees," a much-heralded book about girls that was written about 10 years ago.

I have found this book to be very eye-opening - I would highly recommend that you read it. It gives a lot of insight into the world that your boy is heading in to. Two of my sons (ages 15 and 9) have very volatile personalities and for the most part, with the help of books and counselors, I've learned how to see and hear past the explosive show of emotion and see the boy who is hiding underneath.

I applaud you for not ignoring this - with volatile, emotional boys it's especially important to get a handle on this while they're still little, before they're 6 inches taller than you and stronger and faster too. They need to know that you're not afraid of their emotions and can help them through the worst of how they feel.

Best of luck to you, it will get better if you work with someone who can help you help your child.

PS - the author of "Masterminds and Wingmen" actually makes a pretty good case for why video games, even moderately violent ones, aren't a bad thing. There are several keys to responsible, healthy gaming though, such as no gaming during the school week (we take the controllers on Sunday night and give them back on Friday afternoon), limited gaming time on weekend days, and allowing more gaming if it's social in nature (e.g. a friend comes over and they're both on the couch playing together).

If you don't have a TV and make the move to limit gaming to weekends only, you may have to compromise and find some other way for him to relax and zone out during the week, when his homework and chores are done. Maybe allow him to watch some shows via Netflix streaming or Hulu or something...I honestly think that some TV is better than playing video games every day, but that's of course a level of detail that you can get to with a counselor and tailor a plan that's best for your family.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

No real advice sorry--Just know you are not alone. Not every kid has an "easy" temperament--I know the feeling. My daughter is highly emotional, argumentative, and sensitive. Pushes us to the point to needing to give a consequence and then rages about the consequence or accuses us of not loving her (age 5). Feels entitled to things constantly (attention, shows, "things"). I don't think we have spoiled her either as some mamas on here will probably tell you is the problem with your child. I will say that consistency and very clear limits are key (I'm by no means perfect about these things either) but they help immensely. Find his currency--if video games are it--make him earn that time with positive choices. A psychiatrist or counselor could help you make a behavior plan. Hang in there-managing a child with a difficult temperament is not easy. To the moms that will say he must be learning that "you don't love me" language from somewhere: Guess what--neither my husband or I have EVER said that to each other or our children and our daughter still whips that out to lash out and try to make us feel guilty for not induging our whims. Kids are smart and know how to push buttons.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I agree with Mamazita. Banning video games and computer time is purely punitive. If it's how he relaxes, imagine how stressed he'll be when he can no longer play it at all!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

1) Make sure you choose your battles.

2) Don't try to reason with him, or have long conversations with him about his behavior. Keep your sentences very short and simple.

3) Give him positive attention where warranted. Make sure you and dad spend one-on-one time with him at least once a week.

4) Choose your consequences, and stick to them firmly with no variations.

5) Ignore tantrums.

6) If homework is a big battle, make sure the homework is reasonable. Some teachers give too much homework for elementary aged kids. You might want to discuss it with the teacher. Don't get into homework battles -- they aren't worth it and quality family time is more important than homework.

7) And get a counselor.

Good luck.

p.s. - I do believe video games are addictive, and kids, esp. boys, can show withdrawal symptoms when removed from them.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Consulting a psychiatrist or other counselor is absolutely the right idea. They can give you a better idea of what is going on and how to handle it after assessment/testing. Since you say it's also been a roller coaster with him, and he seems to be very argumentative, I wouldn't be surprised to see a diagnosis of ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).
I don't know what the psychiatrist will say, or a behavioral specialist, but if something like video game time is causing a lot of drama, the game system would be gone.
Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Good advice below, and so glad to hear you are getting professional help!!

Only would add:

Be sure that the professional help includes some kind of counseling for you and your husband so you and he get on the same page about how to deal with your son. You and husband possibly need your own couples sessions (separate from your son) for a while with a child psychologist or psychiatrist or a family counselor. If it's not the same person who sees your son -- and your son does need to be seen regularly, possibly for a very long while, by a professional, not just now and then -- be sure that your parenting counselor consults with your son's psychologist or counselor.

Do look at the "Wingmen" book recommended below and at other resources for parents of boys this age. Remember too that your son is being flooded with hormones he cannot control -- yes, at nine years old. That is possibly a factor but not the sole one.

If his rages include upset and anger at even small changes, or a strong tendency to go ballistic at what are even little alterations that no one could help (for instance: He goes to an event and there are more kids there than he anticipated and he hates larger groups so he goes "off" angrily; or you have to change plans and not go to place X but place Y instead for some errand and he becomes irrationally angry about it), please be sure that his doctor knows about that in detail. A friend's son was like that, with even the slightest change creating a huge "You didn't tell me! I didn't know soon enough!" that turned into rages. He has been getting therapy and using meds that have helped with it a lot. There's a difference between "not doing well with changes" and being so thrown by even the tiniest change that you rage. If your son does the latter pretty often, describe it to the doctor and ask about it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I say he's manipulative (and a bit paranoid) and won't admit it.
Really he's being 9 and resisting growing up a bit.
As adults - there are LOT'S of things we don't want to do - laundry, cooking, housework, cleaning toilets, paying bills, yard work, going to work every day, help with homework, etc.
But, being adults, we realize in order to do the fun things and make fun times possible the un-fun things and responsibilities have got to get done.
Yeah, it would be nice if I won a humongous lottery and I could hire people to do all the unpleasant things in life and then I could do nothing but play all day every day.
But Fate hasn't seen fit to nod in my direction and so I must be a grown up about it and face my responsibilities with as good a grace as possible and do the best I can.
You and I don't get to pitch a fit and sulk and make people miserable around us because of it.
And neither does your son.
I would give him that speech - in front of the psychologist.
And follow up with 'fun' is an earned privilege - it's not a right.
The quickest way to fun is to get the work/chores done.
And until they are done, the fun does not begin.
And then I'd assign him a new chore on top of what he already has.
Because I already have plenty to do and when the work is all finished and everyone has helped to accomplish it then we can ALL go out and have a good time instead of having a pity party hissy fit about it.
Happiness is a choice - he can choose to be happy.

Caving in to him on this would not be doing him any favors.
A parents job is to raise a child to become a self sufficient adult who is capable of raising their own family.
Allowing him to hold on to an immature attitude would have the effect of stunting his growth and maturation.
You've got 9 more years till he IS an adult and the teen years might be a rocky ride.

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answers from Portland on

I wonder if it would help if you dealt with his feelings instead of the facts surrounding what he wants. Say something like, "I know you're disappointed" while letting him express his disappointment.

When life is calm talk about how to express feelings. Model helpful ways for him. Ignore what he says that elicits anger from you. Tell him how what he said makes you feel. Sympathize with how he feels. Reassure him of your love. Do this when you're both calm.

Don't try to reason with him at the time he's agitated. Sympathize with his disapoointment. Then leave him alone. If you need to talk about some aspect of the exchange do so later.

This is just a very simplified respobse to one small part of your question. Get one of Jim Fay's books on Love and Logic. This shows us how to show compassion while enforcing boundaries with natural consequences.

What you describe could be an indication of a more serious situation. Good to be seen by a psychiatrist.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You are describing my son to a tee. It all started around the same age, before that he was a fun, warm, loving boy. His behavior only got worse he became more angry at us at school. Had less patients with his peers. Grades fell so bad. And I do blame a lot of it due to video games. We had started taking him to a Child Psychologist. He was diagnosed with ODD. Children who have this disorder are more prone to suggestive behaviors like the ones that come from video games. Yes your husband may have used computers to do his Phd, but he was not an impressionable child. Please don't blame teachers or a tuff year. I did the very same thing. Have your child talk to some one, take these games away for good period of time. I finally found the help we needed, he no longer play video games. Not any in our house. He's doing much better, but it took 9 years of battles, frustration and he even flunked out of school. Things are better he's getting his GED and planning to go to college in January. Don't wait. There is a reason these games have warnings for people with bad hearts or prone to seizures. Have you ever played these games. Try sitting down for an hour or more and playing them and then see how you feel emotionally. They left me feeling sick, nervous and anxious. Good luck with your son.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Talk to a child psychiatrist. He sounds so much like my son who is diagnosed ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant). The ODD is ALOT better since we have been seeing a therapist. My son is also on meds for his ADHD and slight depression. We get alot of the same language from our son and I just have to redirect him. I reiterate that what he is saying is incorrect, I am sorry he feels that way, and we do love him. I will also say that with mine he is obsessed with video games. It fulfills something in him with his ADHD according to both his psychiatrist and therapist. We really have to enforce limits. Just some things to think about.

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answers from San Francisco on

***ETA: just saw your SWH.
Wow! How would you feel if someone limited your favorite hobby/activity so much? If he likes playing video games then let him play, what's wrong with that? My husband (and son) spends several hours a week playing games, it doesn't affect our family life or health in any way. I don't play at ALL but that doesn't mean I'd try to limit something they enjoy so much***
Pre pubescent boys can be very emotional and dramatic.
How are you handling/limiting his video game time? My son LOVES video games, always has, it's his favorite thing to do. I never limited how much time he played. What I mean is, as long as his chores and schoolwork was getting done, and as long as was getting plenty of exercise, I let him spend his free time doing what he wanted, which was usually playing video/computer games, watching TV or reading.
He's a twenty year old college student now, and still plays a lot of games, but he's healthy and well rounded.
Maybe your son would be happier if he's allowed to spend more time doing what he enjoys.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Awww. That's hard. 9 is the age of puberty and some of this is normal, but the hating himself part is a red flag to me. It tells me that for some reason he is struggling with his self-esteem. I am glad you are going to see someone, but you might consider some family therapy too so that you can talk about these things together in a session. Sometimes you can have just one or two family sessions and then let your child have a few sessions one on one.

One more thing. I do know a child that went through this and I am not saying this is you, but his parents had very high expectations for a 9 year old. They ran a pretty tight ship and I don't feel the child could live up to the expectations..... hence his self esteem tanked because he saw himself as a failure. Find a therapist that not only works with the child but with you and how you parent.

Best of luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You might read "how to talk so kids will listen and how to listen so kids will talk". Because it sounds to me like your son is trying to tell you something, and you don't understand what he's trying to say. And now everyone is frustrated.

I'm also glad you are getting help.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Can I suggest giving him a Motrin? I swear it works with tweens (8-12) and makes a huge difference. I never took it for cramps, I was blessed to not have them.

I was told by a nurse professor to try this. Make sure you read the label and give less than a full dose if there's any concern.

Within 20 minutes the kids were back to being kids and having fun playing instead of fighting, yelling, and arguing.

Midol is also one of the best meds to take when you have a migraine.

From what I understand it works on the swelling of the vessels all over and that includes the ones in the brain that are causing the headache.

It's worth a try if you don't take any particular meds that might interact badly with it or contain the same family of meds. Please know what meds are so you don't overdose.

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answers from Washington DC on

I wonder if he's depressed. I'm glad you are calling someone for help.

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answers from Richland on

Does he have a diagnosis? He sounds spectrum. Your what happened kind of indicates he sees a psychiatrist.

I ask because my son is spectrum and he does not communicate the way we do. Like if what you typed was coming out of my son it would read, I am very frustrated with myself and I don't feel like you understand. Sounds a lot better that way, doesn't it? :)

Imagine if you were talking and all people heard was that whonk whonk whonk adults speak in Peanuts cartoons. Wouldn't you get really frustrated too?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Perhaps you could explain that while you would love to lavish him by indulging all his requests, you cannot and mustn't. It is called parenting. In the same way that it would be damaging for him to have ice cream at every meal, it would be damaging for him to not do his homework, take a shower, or play endless games. Tell him, that you understand that he might see these things differently right now, but with time and experience his perspective might change. Right now, you are in the role of the parent, and as difficult as it might be for both of you, because you love him, you must sometimes say no and stick to your guns.

After having this initial conversation, you can perhaps have a shorthand form of it, i.e. "I understand that you feel xxxx (i.e. we hate you, we are being mean, we xxxxx). I am motivated by your best interests. What is best for you might not be what you most want right now, nonetheless, because I am the parent, I insist that xxx. Let me know when xxx is completed. I love you."

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Odessa on

My tween daughter internalizes correction as rejection. It is the weirdest thing. My husband says it is a manipulative technique. I feel she is super sensitive and gets upset. She needs reassurance.

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answers from Dallas on

I believe you are good parents. Otherwise you would never consider a child psychologist. Good for you. Good for him.

I would try the Motrin. Boys do get moody and teary around that age. hormones. Could be hormones. H not using tx for low T, right?

Depression can cause weird symptoms. Clearing it up can be a life savor.

At this age, also consider a strep infection causing mental problems.

There are also personality disorders that come with a lot of drama.

All of it can be treated and/or managed. You are wise to get it seen about and very brave. it takes a while to get an appt. Dont give up.

Don't give in, either. You still know best. You understand limits, he doesn't. He isn't fully in control of his emotions right now. He is trying to be manipulative, don't let him. Sounds like you are good reasonable parents.
Yes, there are some personality types that challenge a parent more than reasonable people could ever believe. Hang in there.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

That's a step in the right direction-do you speak this way in front of him or are the statements he makes baffling? Just wondering if there is some other dynamic in the house or if everyone is on an even keel. Where is he getting this "language"? Oh-take away the video games entirely-and you will see many changes-good luck.

He could be swinging a golf club, riding a bike, building something tangible-like a birdhouse and painting it, taking a hike, walking the neighbors dog; you want him to be doing big, physical activities where he feels accomplished. When you limit his world and his creativity and accomplishments to a screen that doesn't love him back, I can see where he would have a sense of frustration. The focus of the day is stimulating creativity and the results will astound you. All the best!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think talking to a psychiatrist as you are planning is an excellent idea. I would wait to see how that goes.

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answers from Miami on

I'm so glad you're getting a child psychiatrist on board. What you and your husband NEED to do is go together and discuss this issue with the electronics. Your husband has something invested in this and he is not seeing the big picture regarding his son using them as a way to punish his family. The psychiatrist needs to work with both of you to get this figured out before you deal with your son.

Good luck, mama.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Here's what I did with my GD because I was just tired of having to tell her to do the same things every day, like homework and taking a shower.

I wrote out a list of things that MUST be done daily and a TIME by which they must be done. No one says anything to her - she either does it on time or not. If not, then when I tuck her in at night, I simply say, "You didn't get your stuff done on time so tomorrow after school you'll be in your room. Good night." and that's the end of it. No long drug out battles of wills or whining or bickering. Short, sweet and to the point.

As far as him being unhappy, you need to tell him that only HE controls his happiness. If something is making him unhappy, it's up to HIM to determine what it is and what HE can do to change it. You are not his social secretary nor are you the Sunshine Committee - it's up to him.

I think the psychiatrist is a good idea - well, maybe not so much a psychiatrist but he does need to try to figure out where his anger is coming from and an anger management course would help him figure out how to control that anger.

Good luck, mom.

ETA: I just read your SWH - believe me, he gets the language from HIMSELF. Please don't try to find someone to blame it on. This is all your son; give him credit for being a person. When my mom blamed my bad behavior on others, it made me worse because I wanted her to see and hear that this is ME and how I feel.

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