Q&A: My Child is Saying “Nobody Loves Me”

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blockquote_bgI have a 5 year old daughter who is an amazing kid. But she is very stubborn and has a temper. Lately she has been saying things like I will kill myself with a knife or I hate me and nobody loves me. We are always hugging and kissing her and telling her we love her so I don’t know where this is coming from.

In the 3-5 preschool years, it is not unusual for children to learn that startling or even shocking people with the things that they say is an extremely effective way of affecting others or gaining attention (be it positive or negative). Kids at this age are the ones who blurt out potty words in the grocery store or remark to a passerby “Wow, look how fat that guy is!” and parents are of course mortified. In most cases, this is just a preschool phase where kids are starting to enjoy playing with words, gaining attention and exerting their own power. Many children at this age use words inappropriately without any clear knowledge or understanding of what they just said. These days they pick up a lot of TV or from their other preschool friends.

However, if what they said did work for shock value or got a lot of attention or laughter from adults, then you are apt to hear those words again. Since your daughter is 5, and I am assuming articulate, you can also try asking her to tell you why she says the things she is saying? Maybe she had a fight with a friend at school or someone at school has bullied her to make her feel that way. You can also pick out books at the library or bookstore that promote self esteem in children, check the books on children’s self esteem at thisAmazon.com link.

If she continues to speak this way and you see a lot of mood swings or anger outbursts or signs of depression, I would definitely consult a child psychologist for an evaluation to rule out any other issues, but hopefully this is just a passing phase for your daughter.