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Does Your Child Say This? "You don't love me."

by James Lehman, MSW
Does Your Child Say This? You don't love me.

Does Your Child Say This? "You don't love me."

Does your child use guilt to manipulate you? In this month’s issue, James Lehman, creator of The Total Transformation Program for parents, shows you how to deflect the guilt by using an effective response that puts the emphasis where it should be: on your child and the importance of following family rules.


“Why can’t I go out with my friends? You don’t love me.”
Translation: I’m going to put you on the defensive and hit you where it really hurts so you give in and let me go out.
Ineffective parenting response: “You know I love you! I took you to the mall yesterday!”
Effective parenting response: “The issue is not that I love you. The issue is we have rules in our family about Sunday afternoons.”



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James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James' foremost goal was to help kids and to "empower parents."


Thanks for the tip--now I know what to say (and I won't fall into the guilt trap!)

Comment By : Mamamia

How do you respond when one child compares their punishment to another's. For example, Why didn't you punish Johnny when he did (fill in the blank).

Comment By : Frustrated by Guilt

What is the best way to parent a bipolar 11 year old that refuses to take her meds a lot of times and in general is argumentative about anything even thigs that most of the time can please them? Help me if you can .

Comment By : Mary

FAIR DOES NOT MEAN SAME! At another time (not in the heat of battle, we all know these kids can't listen and understand when agitated) explain that you are working to be fair to each one of your kids. You wouldn't force them all to wear the same size underwear, or have them all in the same school regardless of age, or have them all take meds or wear glasses because one of them needs it. Each child has different needs in order to be treated fairly. Most kids seem to understand the comparison.

Comment By : tyteacher

This is excellent. So smooth. So easy. So relevant.

Comment By : Daddy-o

I actually used this and it actually worked! Thank you for such an excellent and effective program.

Comment By : Penney

I too am having problems parenting a bi-polar child who also has RADS. This teenager complains constantly, is ungrateful, rude, inconsiderate and disrespectful. In short, she avoids relationships by being difficult to get along with. I often hear her say the things addressed in these articles. This is new to me, and I am so grateful I can come to this site for quick answers. There just isn't time to read books and lengthy articles to address the 'issue at hand'. THANK YOU!

Comment By : MamaSurf

When one of the children says you don't love me or You love my brother more,- I say I love you but right now I don't like your behavior or I like his cooperation better than your defiance. You have a choice and can change that.

Comment By : mom is cool

it is very hurtful when a teen says they hate you..and i dont want to live with you, very helpful to know this is about manipulation, not emotions!

Comment By : tami l

Sometimes when kids say "You don't love me", they're testing to see how you react. I've done it, myself. I've yelled it at my father, and have not received an "I love you" back. Kids say it to confirm or disprove what they are thinking.

Comment By : A 18 year old Kid

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Responses to questions posted on are not intended to replace qualified medical or mental health assessments. We cannot diagnose disorders or offer recommendations on which treatment plan is best for your family. Please seek the support of local resources as needed. If you need immediate assistance, or if you and your family are in crisis, please contact a qualified mental health provider in your area, or contact your statewide crisis hotline.

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