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Help me find a good way to respond to dd (5) when she says she hates herself.

(9 Posts)
Izpie Wed 17-Apr-13 20:36:00


I'm an ocassional poster, frequent lurker.

DD, 5 nearly 6, has started saying that she hates herself. It's been going on for probably a couple of months - some weeks not at all but others twice and sometimes more. Initially I acknowledged what she said and reassured her that we love her and think she's great but tried not to give any kind of huge response, I figured she was repeating something she'd heard someone at school say rather than it being a true feeling but I don't think that's the case anymore. There is often a trigger for it, today it was being unhappy with her handwriting, but when I talk to her about what it is she doesn't like about herself she says everything. I tell her all the things I like about her, remind her of everyone who loves her (friends and family) and remind her of times she has been proud of herself.

She is a sensitive child, perfectly behaved at school but can be quite defiant at home. She has a small but close group of friends at school, and out of school - she likes them and they like her. She does well at school but her friends are probably higher achieving than her and I think she feels bad by comparison and this may be the cause of at least some of this. They are generally the leaders in play and she is the follower.

Home life is not perfect, I am not always the most patient mum (both dh and I work in quite full on jobs) and she has a fairly high-mainenance little sister. Having said that she gets lots of love and cuddles and at least some time in the day of quality mum or dad time. If we have had a spat in the day we always have a talk and a cuddle after. I am not a pushy parent and have always told her I love her and always will what ever she does, both dh and I praise her for what she does and tell her we are proud of her.

I am just stuck as to how to help her through this or to really know what the 'right' response is if there is one. Is this a phase a lot of children go through at such a young age? She has also said before that she wants to hit herself, and has done so a couple of times- this is self-harming and I am quite broken that my dd is doing it.

Would really really appreciate any advice anyone might have, and am also happy to answer any questions you may have that you think could shed some light on why she could be feeling like this.

Thank you.

Izpie Wed 17-Apr-13 20:37:27

'occasional' - doh!

lifesobeautiful Fri 19-Apr-13 10:17:04

Oh Izpie that's distressing. I'm afraid I dont' have much advice as I only have a tiny one, but didn't want to leave you unanswered. I think if I was in that situation, I'd take her to see someone - even if just to mention it to the GP, see what they say. I mean, don't make a big thing of it - but maybe just get a professional opinion. Hopefully it's just a phase she'll grow out of. But horrible all the same.

Meringue33 Fri 19-Apr-13 14:01:53


DioneTheDiabolist Fri 19-Apr-13 14:08:22

When she says it, just reply: well I love you and I will always love you. Then later that day, when she has calmed down and you have time, ask her about it and tell her that you feel sad when she says that as you think she is wonderful. And list what you love about her. But listen carefully to what she says. It could be attention seeking or it could be that she is having problems elsewhere.

DS went through a phase if doing this when he was 4-5. It has now passed.

givemeaclue Fri 19-Apr-13 14:08:23

I think I would ask her why she feels that way as a starting point, she may not actually know what in means at 5. It must be really awful to hear her say this, is she sayin it at school, I think I would ask the teacher he there are school issues. Hope its just a phase

dozily Fri 19-Apr-13 14:11:23

I have a dd the same age. Sounds like you're doing all the right things.

I think I would probably mention it to teacher, health visitor or GP, depending on which one you have the best relationship with. Hopefully they can either help or point you in the right direction. Good luck x

SacreBlue Fri 19-Apr-13 14:17:22

I'd ask ask her 'Why?' and really listen carefully to what she says.

She may be picking it up from somewhere else (I've friend who was telling me how 'cute' it was that her DD closed a cafe menu saying 'I'll just have the salad' - the just in there suggests she is repeating her EA DM or equally EA DGrn sad)

She may have things going on which you aren't aware of - both trivial (to an adult maybe) or more serious.

At 5 she may not have the vocabulary to explain everything but she can talk, and you can listen. Best to try and set aside 'sacred' time each week to do so. Many can find this untouchable time for work or DP or religion or shopping so it is easy to find it for DC.

Not for everyone (as I learned after lots of SIOBs at my group) but I have talked about good mental health 'hygiene' with my DS from as early an age as I talked to him about 'going to the toilet' type hygiene.

NeverendingStoryteller Wed 24-Apr-13 17:50:52

I agree with Dione on this one - at the time, just say something like, "that's a shame because I think you're amazing' or "what a pity you can't see all the things that make me love you!" or something like that. Give her some time and then go back and say something like, "you must have been really worried/upset/frustrated (whatever seems appropriate) to have had a feeling that you hated yourself. If you want to talk about it, I'm always here." We have found that this kind of approach opens up communication, and allows the child to find the answer in her own time. If you ask why, it sometimes makes them feel more useless because they might not know why they feel this way.

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