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What should my 4-year-old do when other kids say "I don't like you"?

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My 4-year-old daughter gets upset when children in the neighborhood say things like "I don't like you." I don't know how to handle this. Should I talk to the other parents?


You're witnessing a common and fascinating phenomenon. Preschoolers are beginning to understand and play with the power of words. They do so by saying things like "I hate you!" and "If you give me that I'll be your best friend!" Talking to the other parents won't help, since the children's behavior is perfectly normal. Unfortunately, if your daughter becomes distraught when she hears these things, the other children will do it more since it demonstrates the power they have. The best approach is to help your daughter with her own social skills through a bit of role-playing. Tell her that the two of you are going to play a game. Let her say to you "I don't like you." You can reply with "Well, I'm playing here anyway." Then trade roles so that she gets to practice the responses. That, plus your encouragement and support, should give her the confidence she needs to hold her ground when she's verbally attacked in this way. If she does this, the odds are that the other children will play with her.  

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