Hi guys I've posted here a few times regarding my soon to be stepdaughter but now I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown!! Basically the situation is, my fiance's daughter will be 4 in April. And i have been in her life for over a year now. We all live together and I am a major part of her life, I pick her up from kindergarten everyday while her mum still works etc.. and I am no stranger to her. But her behaviour towards me is like a slinky and I just don't now what to do. 6 months ago everything was fine, she would allow me to be close to her and wanted to play/speak/just generally be around me. She even told me that she loved me. But now my world has turned upside down. when I take her from kindergarten she openly looks unhappy to see me. she WILL NOT make eye contact or speak with me at all, even though I initiate as many convosations as I can she just faces away and looks out of the window. When we arrive home she will slightly open up but then its like a switch flicks again and she will do nothing but tut at me and roll her eyes. She also told me that she doesn't love me, not out of anger just in talking.. I know that she is jealous that she no longer has her mums full attention but this is ridiculous. If we all sit silently watching a film she will only speak to her mum if I am talking, asif to talk over me. She wont allow us to hold hands, but 6 months ago it wasn't an issue, I even woke up in bed to her pulling my arm from around her mum. She is slowly but surely slipping away from me, and it kills me to think how much she doesn't want me around. I am strict with her, I don't deny, but I am always fair. and I cant say that I have done anything to her to warrant this attitude. Its breaking my heart I just need a reason why???? HELP please!!
It has always happend but before it was just afew days at a time. Now she seems to be set this way. We went to visit her family over christmas whom live in a different country so don't see her much at all. Ofcourse they spoilt her rotten, And ever since then its been like this. But I can't say its from that because she also visited in the summer and everything seemed okay afterwards. Another big problem is that I work away for sometimes anything upto a month, this doesn't help because when I come back I suppose it seems I'm kind of "stealing" mommy from her... its so hard!
It might be helpful if there's somewhere she's able to talk about it. It sounds like she's struggling with something, but it will be hard to help her if you don't know what it is. A good play therapist would be awesome, but I know that finances and joint custody sometimes get in the way of that, so it might not be an option. If she has opportunities to play with dolls in a dollhouse or pretend-play with dolls, or even little animal figures, you (or more likely her mom) may be able to get some insight into what she's struggling with if you play with her and listen carefully-- kids tend to be more able to talk about or process issues through play rather than confronting them head on. Drawing or painting can sometimes help kids express themselves as well-- one strategy is to just draw or paint side-by-side with them, ask questions about what they are drawing/painting, model talking about what you are drawing/painting and how it might express your feelings ("I had a hard day at work and I felt frustrated, so I'm using this dark red to show how I felt at work today.") If kids feel safe and we listen carefully, they will often give us clues as to what's wrong. Again, if play therapy is an option, that would be one route to get some faster insight into what's going on for her.
It sounds like you have some idea that she may be struggling with you "taking" her mom from her. It might help to make sure she has some predictable one-on-one time with her mom on a regular basis. She might be just now realizing that you are a permanent fixture in her life, and she might be struggling with that. There may be something someone said to her that has made her worry that your presence is a bad thing.