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  • Writer's pictureInterval Health

How to Parent a Preschooler Who Doesn’t “Like” You

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Every parent has heard of the terrible twos and knows it’s not easy to deal with the attitude problems of a “threenager.” But, when your child reaches preschool age, those attitude problems might start getting more specific. You might begin to hear your child say they don’t like you, and you’re mean, or even that they hate you.

It’s hard to listen to someone so innocent and someone who can be so sweet at times say things like that. It can break your heart, even if you know they don’t mean or fully understand the impact of what they’re saying.

If your preschooler continuously claims they don’t “like” you, how can you keep parenting them effectively? How can you get through to them if they choose not to listen or they’re actively defiant?

Give Them Positive Attention

Sometimes, your child may say they don’t like you because they aren’t getting enough positive attention.

It’s essential to direct, guide, and discipline your child. However, if you’re continually throwing negative words at them or even neglecting them for other things, they could start to feel disconnected from you.

By showering them with positivity throughout the day, they can handle that kind of discipline without feeling disconnected. They need to have a firm foundation and a deep understanding of your love.

So, take a look at the type of attention you give your child daily. Reign in the negative comments and attention as much as possible, and replace it with something positive.

Be Consistent

Your preschooler won’t always like how you discipline them or even the way you guide them to do something. But, it’s crucial to be as consistent as possible with those actions.

You can show consistency while being loving. Your child may react negatively at first. But, when they know they can depend on the same reaction from you every time, it can benefit them.

Be Age-Appropriate

Sometimes, your preschooler may act out against you because they cannot fully explain how they feel. So, ask them questions. Talk to them about their feelings using age-appropriate language. When you encourage them to talk about how they feel, you will better understand one another.

While you can talk about their feelings frequently, it’s vital during times when your child is angry or upset. If they get angry with you for denying them something, explain why by using language they can understand. It may not ease their anger right away. When they know you have a reason for their best interest, they are less likely to “not like you” for it.

Admit When You’re Wrong

No one is perfect, not even parents. You might not want to admit when you’ve been wrong to a preschooler, but it’s more crucial than you might think.

By admitting when you’re wrong to your child, you are humbling yourself. But, you’re also building their trust. If you deny your child something or treat them unfairly without admitting your mistake, that trust may not be as strong, and it can lead to a lot of hurt and confusion.

Remember, your child won’t always like the decisions you make for them. The critical thing is always to make those decisions based on the best interests of your child. When you do that and commit to remaining consistent with your choices, your child will get over the “I don’t like you” phase sooner than you might think.

If you’re struggling with the relationship you have with your preschooler, feel free to contact me for more ideas on how to parent them and build a more positive relationship along the way. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.

To learn more about how counseling can help you on your parenting journey, please click here.

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Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!


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