Saying “I Still Love You” When You’d Rather Trip Your Kid as She Stomps Out of the Room


“You’re the meanest Mommy everrrrrrrr! I don’t love you! I don’t even like you!” Ana Lu screeched, stomping on the floor, arms down by her side, hands balled into petite fists … wait for it… followed by the quintessential stomp out of the room. Into her room she goes, catapults herself onto her bed, yanks the comforter over her head and grunts octaves higher than necessary, assuring I get the memo she’s pissed.

Note to self: Get this kid into acting classes. Her natural flair for drama is extraordinary. My friend recently recommended I get Ana Lu into drama classes, that perhaps she’ll channel her inherent knack for drama in a theater, rather than our home.

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I can only hope.

I follow Ana Lu into her room, kneel down next to her bed and gently lay my hand on her back. She twitches, pulls away and grunts overtly again.

“I still love you, Sweetie.”

It’s the first thing I say every time she says I’m mean or that she hates me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I’m overly joyful in the moment. Inside I’m fuming because I know that I bust my mommy-ass to raise her, so getting told I’m mean while setting a basic rule really pisses me off.

If I’m honest, there are plenty of times I’ve considered sticking out my foot to trip her when she stomps off all attitude-y to her room.

But regardless of my intermittent, unhealthy desire to trip my five-year-old when she’s acting like a twit… I’m always mindful of saying, “I still love you.”

I always want her to know – no, it’s vital that she know – she can be real with me. That I can take it. I ask her if she wants me to stay. She murmurs, “Yes,” in a tone of voice that communicates, “I need you, but I don’t want you.”

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I sit on her bed, start to rub her back and feel her petite body relax underneath my loving touch. Most times, after I sit with her for a minute she regains confidence that my love is unconditional, and I’m cool with her spazzing out on me; she’s ready to be alone. She softly whispers, “Space, please.” She knows she needs alone time to wind down.

Thank God.

I desperately need it, too.

Related post: The Multiple Personalities of a Tween Girl 

About the writer

Gretchen is an ex-wife, ex-pediatric nurse, ex-resident of Guatemala and ex-member of Weight Watchers. (Cake is simply too yummy!) She is published in recently released Chicken Soup for the Soul, It’s Christmas! and Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Dating Game. She can be found on: Twitter, Facebook  and her website, Sassy Single Mom.

From Around the Web


Sophia Lynn Perry 11 months ago

I also have to hold back from slapping my fiance sometimes. I have quite the temper.

Allyson Lang 11 months ago

I usually love these posts, but this one is just not ok. I understand all kids need to be allowed to express their frustration and all other emotions; however, yelling mean and hurtful words to another person is not okay in the real world. At 5 years old and even younger kids should be taught kindness and respect. When this little girl does this outside of the home (and she will), the reaction will not be to rub her back and comfort her.
That being said. . . I have had the urge to trip my kids as they stomp up the stairs many times.

Jenny Honeybee 11 months ago

Had the urge to skip to my car….whole day to myself! Oh yeah!!!

Erin Sharp 11 months ago

Aww 😉

Deirdre Appel 11 months ago

My 12 yr old daughter and I have a similar process when one of those ‘other’ personalities take over her little body and brain.

To help light the mood, I list things she could do but I would love her anyway. “I would still love you if you poured my perfume in the toilet” “I would still love you if you if you drew a mustache on the dog” and as I go through the list, the things get more goofy and crazy. The list changes. Some nights I rhyme; some nights there’s a theme.

It usually doesn’t take too long before we’re both giggling – and my sweet little girl is back.

Kylie 11 months ago

The point is that you have to teach them that this type of behavior is wrong before it becomes ok for them to treat you like crap. I make sure my son knows I love him but I also make sure to remind him that I have feelings and it is not ok to hurt someone else. I want my son to be “real” with me but I also want to be “real” with him. Everyone has feelings and he is responsible for how he treats EVERYONE, including his parents.

Sandra Mood 11 months ago

My response “yeah, well mean mommies love their kids, if I didn’t love you I would give you whatever you want just to avoid spending time with you.”

Kasey Tudrick 11 months ago

I love this… And I love the word “twit” I don’t use it nearly enough

Jackie Hicks-Schieszler 11 months ago

When my daughter use to shout “I hate you”, I replied “that’s okay, because I’m not crazy about you right now either.” “But I still love you”

Melissa Dierna 11 months ago

I threw a loaf of bread at mine once. It didn’t hurt her but it felt good for me. Ha

Charlie Robertson 11 months ago

My daughter might not remember, but when she was little she would have ” down on the floor kiking and screeming fit” we would just ignore it and step over and walk away. We paid no attention and she gave it up…

Toni Lea 11 months ago

Love this

Fiona Dingle 11 months ago

I am reliving my own childhood, as in its come back to bite me in the arse!!! Lots of eye rolling and storming off but i’m guessing at 10 there is a truck load to come yet

Paige Marie Feole 11 months ago

I always remind my daughter that I love her when she’s being punished!

Becki Hahnen 11 months ago

Some days I just want to sucker punch them in the throat.. But then they smile and give me a hug and damn… They are sooo lucky they are cute!

Shawn Prichard DeWitt 11 months ago

My 14 year old was so mean and annoying when she was in the er one time…I walked out into the hallway, stopped a nurse, and loudly asked if she could do a spinal tap…..all children are born to find and push your buttons. She is 20 now and laughs while apologizing.

Cindy Bryant 11 months ago

Brianna was great at the stomp off to her room ( upstairs) and fling herself on the bed screaming at the top of her lungs at a high pitch !

Lynn Murphy 11 months ago

Never thought of tripping, but I do make face and stick my tongue out when they stomp off! They haven’t caught me yet! Lol

Charlie Robertson 11 months ago

Do not yell at your children, lean in and whisper, it’s a lot scarier…

Aymee Wright 11 months ago

is tripping not okay??

Shannon Beattie 11 months ago

Had anyone actually tripped their lovely children?? Lol. I’m waiting for the I’m leaving/moving/running away comment. I’m going to hit them back saying no you don’t I’ve got my bags already packed and I’M leaving and going for a holiday 😉

Vicci B. Chuc 11 months ago

Not only trip, but give them a little push through the door, maybe a kick in the ass on the way by. Oh so many thoughts run through my mind when one of my littles has a fit and tears off in rage. Oh so many bad things run through my mind, but thankfully I have the will power to stop myself even though I know how good it would feel. LOL

Patricia Pigeon 11 months ago

I love that she asks you for space.

Kendan Lovell 11 months ago

I disagree. I find this parental behaviour so passive aggressive that it’s almost a way to smarmily kick your kid when they’re angry. By all means de-escalate the situation. But change the subject and tone. Have your tone suggest you still love your kid. But by actually saying the words, I think that’s a bit smug and “look at mommy take the high road” for my liking.

Brigette Wiens 11 months ago

I love my children to death. But I do stick my tongue out at them behind their backs when they act like jerks.

Patricia Wyman 11 months ago

My daughter tells me all the time that I suck…I laugh and clap! I tell her if she thinks that, then I’m doing something right!

Kayleen Gover 11 months ago

I either be just as annoying (“hey! Aubrie! Hey hey hey!” “What mom?!” “I love you wiggles”) or the “you don’t have to like me and I don’t have to always like you, but I do love you. Go take a minute to calm down and let me know when you’re done”

Angie Campbell 11 months ago

Am the only one who thinks a five year old should know better than to say something like that? I might expect it from my 2 or 3 year old, but by kindergarten that deserves some consequences.

Melanie Koppen 11 months ago

That helped.. thank you.

Sonya McKinney 11 months ago

I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I love him but OMG he makes me mad!

Gillian Nicole 11 months ago

I like the give a big shove it sign when my daughter is being a redic 4 year old , just as she turns around. It gives me great pleasure lol

Jamie James 11 months ago
Paulette Moloughney-Silverthorn 11 months ago

I swear teenagers are the way they are because it’s mother nature’s way of us letting them go. Sigh. There are times where i understand why some animals eat their young. 3 teen girls 17,16,13.. and a 7 year-old boy.

Jennifer Tielking 11 months ago

lol @ the kid in the photos expression, yep I see that one frequently from my two daughters and my niece.

Lyn Taylor 11 months ago

I often say ‘I love you but at the moment I don’t like you’

thatboymomwithagirl 11 months ago

I agree. My kids are 17, 15 and 13. I have never heard “I hate you” out loud. They know better than to say some self-indulgent, entitled crap like that simply because they do not get their way. Have they thought it or muttered under their breath? No doubt. However, self-control comes first in this house. Completely expected.

Keri Taylor 11 months ago

Raise your hand if you actually have tripped your kid… oops

Addie Brinkley Ferber 11 months ago

Mine is “I love you anyway”.

Tonya Francisco Scallon 11 months ago

I have thrown a pillow at my pre teen daughter. After the 10th eye roll, or I KNOW MOM or whatever hormonal snippy remark, I hurled that puffy decorative pillow at her butt like a ninja. Shocked the crap out of her, she turned around completely shocked I said I love you, but if you don’t knock off the attitude next time it won’t be a pillow. :) lol!!

Charlotta ‘Madsen’ Bernau 11 months ago

“I will always love you, but I don’t always have to like you” has been my truthful motto with my husband and is becoming true with my 2 1/2 yr old son

Denise Bryner Price 11 months ago

Sometimes I wonder how they made it through their teenage years…

Bignoggins 11 months ago

The last time I checked, public tantrums and lack of self control were considered a big problem to greater good. If we don’t start at age 5 teaching kids it’s NOT ok to wig out, you have lost the battle when they are 13 and 33.

SC Moore 11 months ago

“I love you very much but I do not like your attitude/behavior/choices,” is stated at our house a lot.

Liz Christena 11 months ago

I tell my kids I love them very much and they have the luckiest mommy and daddy in the whole world every night when they’re in bed. And with a two year old I’m sometimes saying it more to convince myself than to reassure her!!

Stephanie 11 months ago

My response to my daughter when she tells me I’m mean is that she can think I’m mean, but that I’m only trying to do what’s best for her, and help make her the best person she can be. I almost always give her space to calm down right away when she’s upset, but when she IS calm, we always have a talk, and I tell her that I will love her forever, no matter what, even if we get mad at each other.

Amy Sutter Grant 11 months ago

I say if your kid hasn’t told you sure least once they don’t like you your not doing something right. My mom use to tell us all the time it’s alright not to like me sometimes but remember I will always love you even if I don’t like you at this moment, it’s honest and let us know our feelings of not liking her at any particular moment were alright that we still loved her deep down you know in case that was the last thing we ever said to each other… I use those same lessons with my very dramatic 5 teenagers and overly dramatic 2 year old ( don’t tell my 2 year old I don’t like him just yet give it a couple more years for him to understand )

Sarah Carter 11 months ago

I’ve always answered with “Good! That means I’m doing it right.”

Angie Brown 11 months ago

I needed this today, rough morning with a smart mouthes kid, wishes I could have a do over ever since

Tammy Cunha 11 months ago

I flipped off my 13 year old, right to her face. Immediately regretted doing it, but it was better than smackin’ her one!

Monica 11 months ago

When my son tells me I’m mean, I tell him I know, it’s in my contract. That when God gave me such an awsome, smart, hard-headed child, I had to promise Him that I would raise him to be a good man, and that means loving him enough to be mean when he needs me to be for him to learn to be better. Now he rolls his eyes and says “I know, I know…in the contract” when he wants to say I’m mean.

Roni Johnson 11 months ago

that would just kill me. i bend over backwards to make my special little guy happy- to the point of breaking. i hope he never, ever says that or even thinks that way at any point and time, even in anger :/

Marie Plueger 11 months ago

My almost 6 year old daughter is VERY dramatic as well…she always screams ‘you’re SO rude!’ Stomps away and slams her bedroom door…most times I have to just walk away and we both cool down. She’s a lot like me personality-wise, so I know what I’m getting myself into…Lord help me!

Joy Pieri 11 months ago

I have started saying this to my 5 year old boy who likes to tell me how mean I am and how much he doesn’t like me when I am not doing things the way he would like. It does help…

Jennie Ryan Faith 11 months ago

I’ve held back on the “I still love you” comments. Sometimes they need to sweat it out…

Jocelynn Schnell 11 months ago

my mom actually did trip me once when i was 14. lmao.

Kris McGinnis 11 months ago

you love your children but sometimes you just can’t help not liking them. no matter what their age

Dawn Michelle Williams-Nolan 11 months ago

I need to try this!

Shelagh Durham Krakower 11 months ago

A good read. Mine says I RUIN everything, gets very hostile, especially when trying to get her to leave a friends house. It’s hard not to fight back.

Melinda Schulist 11 months ago

I’ve had to refrain from hip-checking my children down the stairs. I love them but good gracious.

Theresa Goheens 11 months ago

I have days where I want to throw myself out of a moving vehicle and trip the kids

Joann Foster 11 months ago

I <3 this blog!

Mike N Jen Richards 11 months ago

I scream “I love you, too!” As they’re stomping away…lol

Christy Birkich 11 months ago

Shuxxxx im not the only one lol I love all my boys, their ages are 18, 16 & 4 yr old twins lol glad im not alone lol

Mary 11 months ago

It’s a bit of a stretch to call a child’s acting out “emotional abuse”. She’s not deliberately inflicting harm. She’s five, and not in control of her emotions yet.

While I agree that it’s important to teach kids that their actions have consequences, the best way to teach a child to control her emotions is to give her that security of knowing that Mom’s not going anywhere. I think this writer handled the situation really well by showing her daughter that 1) she doesn’t control Mommy’s emotions, (making her temper tantrums less effective), and 2) unconditional love.

Sam Victoria Lucy Moyes-Robb 11 months ago

I luv my 2&7 yr old red headed boys..but I struggle to like them sometimes

Tramequa Surratt 11 months ago

I threw my son out of a moving vehicle this morning. Scream like that again!

Karlii Harmer 11 months ago

hahaha awesome

Mary Schneider 11 months ago

It doesn’t change when they’re teens! I wanted to trip both mine this morning. Love them, but some days…. :-/

Life with the Beasts 1 year ago

I don’t remember making as many stupid faces behind anyone’s back in school as I make now, now that I have kids that talk back. I’m sure that makes me a 5 year old but sometimes it’s the only response I can come up with.

Irene Peace 1 year ago

OMG , i laughed till i peeeeeeeeed lol

Julie Kiger-Conn 1 year ago

You are awesome!! Lol I love it.

Courtney 1 year ago

I’m already teaching my twin 3 y/o boys that “even when we are mad, we still love each other.”

Every time one stomps off and says “I no like you Mommy” I let him know it’s ok to get mad, but I love him even when he doesn’t like me.

Gina 1 year ago

Let me start off by saying you are obviously very nurturing, that’s the sweetness in the story. You sound like an amazing lady so all due respect but here is my point of view, if I may. Saying “I hate you, I don’t like you, I don’t love you ” or anything of that sort is out of line in my home. I never said these things to my parents and my kids dont say them. Not because they don’t think it (lol) but because I speak to them with respect and I insist on the same. They are not allowed to say I hate you to each other either. I am sure I sound like the mean police but I was raised this way and it worked well. Empathy and caring about we treat those we love is important for kids to understand. What are your thoughts on this Mommies? I find it disrespectful and unacceptable. In the adult world we don’t around taking to each other this way. Kindness goes a long w me as does respect and empathy. I never felt stifled as a child not being allowed to speak this way and I don’t think my kids do. If we are in a store and ny youngest 7 hears a child speak this way she always gasp in shock. Even my young teen freaked when one of his friends said to him he hated him mom. He said in his teen speak, DUDE yo that’s your Mom! You can’t say that! Bro my mom makes me mad a lot too TRUST ME but man that’s your Mom. You can’t be disrespecting her like that. ” ya hes a pain in the ass much of the time because of his age but the one thing we have down is being respectful

Ari Red Eagle 1 year ago

I have always done that with my kids because that was the one thing that my mom did really well and it really stuck with me. I think it’s important to let kids know that even if you’re mad at them and even if they’re mad at you that you still love them.

Kimberlly Batura-Myers 1 year ago

My daughter does this she is 8, I can’t wait for the teen year..UGh Yes I can

Krissy Johnson 1 year ago


Skye 1 year ago

Just beautiful. Tears in my eyes after reading. You are a wonderful mommy with wonderful advice. A lot of people could learn from this article.

Minxy Warner 1 year ago

Yes we do! Funny thing is now my oldest son (28) sees people his age with wild children and he looks at me and asks “what is wrong with their parents???”

Minxy Warner 1 year ago

oh and the stomping – go right ahead as long as your lil tushie is moving you can stomp all the way there. Same with telling me “no” – say it all you want as long as your tushie is moving and you’re doing what you were told to do.

Minxy Warner 1 year ago

When my kids were young “you’re the meanest mommy” was met with “yep and every day for the rest of your life i’m going to get a lil meaner so when you turn 18 you’ll thank God IF you get to move out of my house.” I always said it a straight face and a soft calm voice. “I hate you” was met with “that’s okay I love you enough for both of us” There were four of them and only one of me – I had to be tough or i’d never have survived till they were adults!

Shaunacey 1 year ago

love this! My daughter is only one, but I know the time will come.

Stephenie Rae Page Dixon 1 year ago

Then I’m doomed with 2 of each!!!

Jimmy Blyth 1 year ago

it’s 6:30am and my baby has finally (it seems) fallen to sleep. I still love her but…$%^&*(^#$%&*(&^%$#

Amie Miller 1 year ago

just the title makes me laugh!

Anna Wright Kane 1 year ago

Oh Stephenie Rae Page Dixon, boys do it too! The 7 yr old is the worst and his brothers quickly learned the stomp too!

Robin Monique 1 year ago

My 4 year old just said this morning that he didnt like me. hurt like hell bc like you say I bust my busy mommy a$$

Lindsey Pierson 1 year ago

Our saying here is I will always love you no matter what. It’s your behavior/attitude/words… That I don’t like.

Beth Lombardi 1 year ago

I know this feeling!!

Amanda m 1 year ago

I was going to comment, but you took my words! Lol. I agree with you completely.

Marian Wangsgard 1 year ago

One of my children told me I wasn’t the meanest mom in the world, I was worse. I wear it as a badge. The meanest moms have great kids.

Mary Schneider 1 year ago

Oh just wait… It gets better. Mine’s 17 and I get “You’re so UNREASONABLE! I HATE YOU” at least 2x a month…

Emily Jones 1 year ago

I’m a love and logic parent…the main one-liner that the books and classes teach you to say is “I love you too much to argue”. As my girls have approached their teen years I have had to add another part to that: “I love you too much to argue, AND I respect myself too much to let you bully me.” Super duper important to teach my kids the line between tolerance and self-respect.

Shawnna Dimon 1 year ago

This is something I always do . With my boys. Even when they are being complete turds I always tell them I love them and give them hugs on demand. My 4 y.o. I guess wants to know I still love him and will, without fail, ask for a hug several times while in time out or right after getting into trouble. I think its important our kids know we still love them, even when they are being rude and nasty.

Sarah 1 year ago

I do not fully agree with this article. While I do agree that it is important that children feel like they are loved unconditionally, they also need to learn that words and behaviors have consequences. The few times my children have told me they hated me, I have very firmly and without anger told them they are not allowed to talk to me like that. They can tell me they are angry and why, but they can not say hurtful things to me just because they are mad. They can not be disrespectful just because they don’t like what is happening in the moment. I want my kids to learn life skills that will make them successful in the real world. I can tell my boss I disagree with her, but I certainly can’t scream that I hate her and stomp out of the room. So why would I accept that behavior from my child? I want my kids to know they can be real with me, but I also want them to learn self control and responsibility for their actions and words. And I do not want to model to them that loving someone is being a doormat for them and allowing them to treat you any way they want to when they are mad at you!

Kelly Rhodes Darby 1 year ago

We just had the I still love you talk the other night. Boy does that make him mad. :)

Angela Astrella 1 year ago

I kinda needed to read this today. Sometimes I think my oldest and I will not (both) survive the age of 7.

Lara 1 year ago

OMG, i was cracking up, that is my 8 yr old. She did it on Good Friday in the Church basement, hollered, “I hate you” (as she was walking up the stairs) so I said just a loudly “I love you” A friend that was already upstairs was laughing, remembering the days her boys did the same thing.

Mikki 1 year ago

I love this! While my daughter doesn’t throw many tantrums yet (she’s only 4) this is something we strive to do. Thank you so much for sharing!

Rima Mason 1 year ago

Love this!!

Kjersten Herkel 1 year ago

Thank you for posting this today….

Tanya 1 year ago

I love this! But the difference is sometimes I find that I laugh as I’m screaming I STILL LOVE YOU back at her. Only reason it makes me laugh is because I remember being just like her as a kid saying the same thing to my mom. There are those moments where I want to cry or am fuming mad, but I always let her know I love her. :)

Kristen Bennett 1 year ago

Perfect. Story of my life.

Ana 1 year ago

Love this post! It’s like you channeled the script in our home too. When I was little and had the same feelings my mom would put me in a room to cool off – except she left me there and withdrew her affection from me for days. I never got the “I love you”. It sucked. I vowed never to do the same with my child.

Julia Byrne Anthony 1 year ago

For some reason, this made me cry. It’s beautiful and amazing how much we love our kids…even when they’re not at their best.

Rhiannon Justice Morgan 1 year ago

Every time I get told “I don’t like you,” by one of my kids, I answer “I love you too!” They hate that lol.

Jamie Jean 1 year ago

I love this page. It is so helpful. It’s nice to know this stuff does not just happen at my house. Thanks for your posts!!

Brandi Sullivan 1 year ago


Laura D 1 year ago

I thanked my kid the last time she called me the meanest. Because, you know, it means that I’m doing my job as her parent and not allowing her to do things that could be harmful to her well-being….

Holly Tierney Thomas 1 year ago

I had to fake smile yesterday while helping my 9 year old get dressed ( yeah I know …he is lazy and it wont happen again) but anyways I was thinking you are a real asshole..just keep smiling, just keep smiling..and get on the bus..

Clare 1 year ago

Sometimes my 9 year old daughter tries half-heartedly to hit or shove me while also hugging me, her fury towards me in those moments is so fierce that that she needs the reassurance of a hug at the very moment she is expressing her anger! Luckily for us both she recognises the ironic nature of the conflicting feelings and at first that in itself intrigued her enough to distract her, (and me), and now it brings out a begrudging smile which sometimes allows us both to laugh and move on past the anger and look at the cause together – if we’re lucky! It can also sometimes lead to a brief smile, followed by stomping off to her room and slamming the door with utter frustration at being 9!

Lupe Fernandez 1 year ago

Applies at any age

Carley Anne 1 year ago

Really needed this today

Nom DePlume 1 year ago

Even a child can commit emotional abuse, and that’s not ‘being real.’ It’s a fine line between expressing emotions and abusing your caregivers.

Melissa Allen 1 year ago

Just last night my daughter told her dad “I don’t like you. You’re a poo-poo head”. I told her it wasn’t nice what she said to her dad. I guess she thought about it and few minutes later she went and told him she was sorry. He said ‘I love you too.”

Melinda Weidenborner Ebelhar 1 year ago

“There is nothing you can do to make me not love you. I might not like you very much right now, but I love you.”

Stephanie Meyer James 1 year ago

My youngest (8 year old boy) will be a complete turd all day and then, when bedtime rolls around, want a big hug (which I give.) Then, on my way out of his room, he’ll yell, “I love you!” I reply back with, “I love you, too,” but then flip him the bird once I’ve closed his door…

Laura Branco 1 year ago

Tears in eyes.

Bekah 1 year ago

This is so perfect! I love it. I try so hard to make sure that I always tell my kids that I love them when they are mean and it’s amazing how much it helps both them and me. But I still love to think about tripping them! I am so happy knowing there are other moms like me out there. 😀


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