In the last few days my 3yr has suddenly started saying things like "Your not my friend Daddy" and "Your naughty" and "I'm telling on you Daddy". At the moment it's not necessarily nasty and he soon forgets he even said it after a bit of distraction etc

However we have never said these things to him and I'm wondering if he picked them up from day care or if it's just a natural progression of language and communication?

If it's picked up from day care, it just got me worried as it means other kids are saying things like "I'm not your friend" to him which I worry could be hurtful to him? Or it could just be natural playground interaction. I'm not sure.

  • 2
    My child has picked up some weird things from playschool. Pink is his favourite colour but he recently told me that "pink is a girl's colour". Luckily I showed him my pink iPhone case and watering jug and persuaded him that anyone can like anycoloyr they want. He has also picked up so weird "telling off" behaviour which made me sad. He is copying what other children are saying, and they are copying what their parents are saying. I ignore the bits I don't like; refute with examples the wrong stuff; and praise the good bits.
    – DanBeale
    May 15, 2014 at 1:54
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    @DanBeale I guess I just get sad when I hear the I'm not your friend as I'm hoping other kids aren't being mean. Guess we can't molly coddle them though. Cheers.
    – dreza
    May 15, 2014 at 3:09
  • true. Sometimes children say things that reveal how harsh their friends can be. My child has said, in the same day, "my really love you Dan, you is my best friend but after mummy and daddy" and "YOU IS NOT MY BEST FRIEND ANY MORE" followed a few minutes later "My is your friend and you is my friend!". It seems quite fluid! So while I too find it upsetting I hope he's robust enough to cope with it. (gently confusing: he calls his step father daddy and calls me dan)
    – DanBeale
    May 15, 2014 at 9:27
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    Kids pick things up at day care and try them out, many times they don't understand what it really means. Just let it slide.
    – GdD
    May 15, 2014 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


As always there's a few layers to go through to understand what your boy is dealing with.

All of these are mechanisms for defying you, which is normal and will inevitably happen. Is this in response to not getting his 3rd cookie? (I exaggerate; children will judge their parents as being unfair no matter what, they just don't understand what is at stake). As a parent you will have to be the bad guy at times, and he is going to resist. As he does so you will begin to understand how he deal with his problems.

In more detail, what he's picking up from other kids and people are two of the many facts of life: Rejection and Discipline.

"You're not my friend Daddy"

The fact is you can't be his friend, his peer. You will have to make decisions for him because he doesn't have the maturity to make himself, which makes you his superior. Once into the teenage years you can start taking the friendship seriously, but not until he's an Adult can you truly be peers.

You're right, some kid probably said that to him. As a separate conversation find out which kids he likes, and doesn't like; which ones are his friends, which ones he wants to be friends with, and which kids are mean. Teach him to self reflect: maybe he didn't share a toy with another kid, and that kid responded with "you're not my friend". Teach him to compliment others, this is a powerful tool that works very well with Adults too; "nice toy", "good idea!".

The fact of real life is people are not always nice to each other. If you prevent your child from experiencing mean people, they will not learn to deal with real life. Teach your boy to not get angry, and constructive ways of dealing with mean kids/people. Avoidance is an option to a small extent. You can teach your boy about empathy (don't use the word... just teach him to understand how other people might be feeling). The mean kid might be mean because someone was mean to him. That's not an excuse, but it diffuses anger lends some compassion and patience to help deal with kids/people like that.

"You're Naughty" / "I'm telling on you"

These are quite nice ways for him to rebel. There's plenty of more colorful phrases he could be using to show defiance :). He needs a way to vent when he thinks things are unfair.

You might want to clarify to him that when an adult calls him naughty or bad that it is his actions that were naughty, not he himself. The important difference is that naughty is not a permanent characteristic, he has the power to control his actions and amend mistakes. Teach him to "make things right again".


My boy isn't old enough to have a conversation with yet. But once he is, I plan on making bed time a moment of reflection. It's a nice time when they are settled and will do anything to keep you there a while longer. After reading a story, talk about his day and how he felt, what he could have done differently and what he was happy about. Use your wisdom and maturity to guide the conversation to touch on the lessons to be learned (ie, guide him out of thinking "I should have whacked that kid when I had a chance"). Maybe even choose the story that fits recent problems he's facing, if he's ready to face them yet; you'll have to decide.

  • Cheers. I'm not really upset that he is saying these things to him. More that other kids are saying them to him meaning he is struggling to make friends, or others are being mean to him and it might effect him emotionally. Just concerned :) Thanks for the comments.
    – dreza
    May 15, 2014 at 20:15
  • I can totally understand that you don't want your boy to suffer other people, you might be feeling "those damn kids...". One of the points is that you want to avoid stewing anger towards those that harm him, and rather come up with constructive ways of dealing with the situation. Don't let it get him down. You will be teaching him how to become something great in the world (CEO, Musician, highly respected professional, ...), despite the curve-balls of life. Otherwise you are allowing the curve-balls of life to limit you.
    – Michael
    May 16, 2014 at 1:49
  • Think of it as designing a good suspension in the car of life, to take the bumps without crashing. Avoiding the bumps is an endless battle, but once the suspension is well designed you can sit back and relax.
    – Michael
    May 16, 2014 at 1:50
  • Thanks Michael. I don't feel any anger to those against him. I just don't want it to effect him emotionally going forward and for him to feel sad, lonely etc I'm sure he will be ok though. He is only 3 I guess :)
    – dreza
    May 16, 2014 at 20:16

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