Help! I think my toddler hates me! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 08-27-2004, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This issue has been bothering me for some time now, but I never thought to dicuss it with you guys....I've just been on here chatting about my pregnancy lately.
I haven't felt as close to my dd since I quit breastfeeding. (She is 21 months old now) She was only 4 months old, but my supply was horrible, but that's another issue. I've also let my dh do all he wants for her, which is a lot, and even more now that I'm pregnant again. She is definately a "daddy's girl"!
I am a SAHM, and am home with her all day. People tell me that she prefers my dh over me because she doesn't see him as much, but she really doesn't want to have much to do with me when I'm alone with her either. Some of her behavior includes: not coming to me when I ask for a hug, kiss, to play, read or anything; not wanting me to pick her up, not wanting me to comfort her when she gets hurt, coming up to me and hitting or throwing something at me for no reason, kicking me while I change her diaper, yelling at me (in her own way), and lots more. This morning was especially hard because my dh got up for work, and then she woke up. He was finishing feeding her breakfast when I came down the stairs, and when she saw me she started crying. She acted like she was scared of me, and didn't even want me to look at her. I know she knows my dh leaves in the morning and she clings to him and cries when he leaves, but it still hurts that I'm not good enough for her.
All of this behavior has made me act differently toward her, and I don't think it helps. I have babysat and been a nanny to tons of kids over the years, and I have been emotionally closer to a number of them than I am my own daughter. I don't think it's a stage because it's seriously been going on for a least a year, and I don't know how to change the situation.
I am so afraid that I am totally going to spoil this next child because I don't want it to act the same way. I don't want to do that, but I have a friend who has a very clingy daughter, and I'd much rather have a child who is like that than a child who wouldn't miss me if I dropped off the face of the earth. One of the reasons I wanted children is the bond/connection you have with them...love, warmth, them being dependant on you for everything (at least for a little while), but my dd may as well be a child I babysit for who doesn't like me.
I would really like to know if there is anyone else who is having this problem, or if anyone has any suggestions as to how I should deal with this?
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#2 of 18 Old 08-28-2004, 09:54 PM
 
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that's a hard one.

i know this is going to sound strange, but maybe back off from asking for affection? you can provide gentle hugs and kisses of course, but my daughter who is totally a mamas girl doesn't like to come clear across the room to kiss me. she's got better things to do

also maybe find some things you guys both like to do -- go to the park, color, whatever and do them!

Kristin -- mom of Erin (11/5/02) and Leah (9/29/05)
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#3 of 18 Old 08-29-2004, 04:58 PM
 
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I agree with Kristin in that you should back off just a tad on expecting the affection. Sit down with her, play at her level, read books, sing songs, stack blocks and knock them over- bond with her that way. You're home with her all day- does she completely ignore you and not acknowledge you at all??? If you start small just playing with her, not expecting anything, I think she'll eventually give you a hug and kiss out of the blue, on her own terms.

I feel like this with my foster daughter a LOT. I've raised her since she was four days old (she's 18 months now), but sometimes I don't feel very close to her, and I know she feels it to. I DO love her, and she loves me, but we definitely aren't as close to each other as I am with my natural son. She has always arched away from me while I fed her a bottle, tried to cuddle her, or picked her up when she's hurt. It seems to piss her off MORE when I try to cuddle her sometimes! She is very close to my husband, however, so it doesn't bother me too much that she isn't clinging to me constantly. I know she has the proper bonding and attachment to him that she needs to grow up healthy and secure. She comes to me when she needs love when Daddy's not here, so I take what I can get!

We already spoil our foster DD and it doesn't have any effect on her bond to me :LOL so I wouldn't suggest overly spoiling your next baby. It would make your DD more stand-offish, I think. It might make her bitter and jealous of the new baby. Maybe you could use this pregnancy as a way to bond stronger with your daughter- planning and talking about things, how she's going to be the big birl in the family, the big sister who helps Mom and Dad with the new baby. And spend special time with her after the baby comes so she still feels unique, and loved for that.

My 21 month old son (God- is he that old already???) is extremely clingy to me, and he still can't sleep all night without nursing... So, in some ways I think you should count your blessings that your daughter is so independent and secure. It's harder in some respects to have a needy child, and you have no time for yourself at all! I do hope it gets better for you soon- I know it can take a toll on your emotions when your baby doesn't snuggle up to you and love you as much as you love them... Especially when you're pregnant! But at that age they don't know that they're supposed to reciprocate the physical aspects of love, they just expect to recieve!

Now, go give her a hug (don't expect one back) and just let her know that you love her no matter what...

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#4 of 18 Old 08-29-2004, 10:42 PM
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I agree, don't beg for hugs and kisses. My son is 18 months and has only just started to give them. For the longest time he would refuse. I find he is most affectionate now when we are playing at something he really likes or I make him laugh. Then he gets all silly and googly-eyed at me.

I do think kids go thru phases where they prefer one parent over the other, too. But, if it has been going on for a year and you really are concerned about the bond, I would consider talking to a professional. You know, why suffer? Maybe there is something they can suggest to help. I know it must hurt very much.

Another good resource is Dr. Sears. His books always seem to get into the thick of things with the parent-child relationship, and how to forge close bonds...and not let the child's behavior condition you too much (in other words, how to overcome just the sort of behaviors you are talking about). I think his "Fussy Baby Book" had quite a bit of that kind of thing in it. My son isn't fussy but I read the book because so many people l know liked it. I'm glad I did b/c I think there is info. that is helpful for any sort of baby personality. Good luck!
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#5 of 18 Old 09-01-2004, 05:07 AM
 
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i book i'd like to suggest is called the five love languages of children. better than me trying to just explain the book here, which i think will help you. it helped me immensely and i loan it often and can be found at most libraries. all kids need all five languages, but we as adults don't necessarily know that there are other ways of loving besides the way we give and expect it. it sounds to me like, and i don't know a nicer way to say it, that you have your own unmet needs and you need to feel loved, like all of us do. remember that it is the highest compliment to us mammas, that our children take us for granted and feel free to behave as badly as they want because they feel comfortable and loved.

of course she needs and loves you. it is important that you know and eventually feel that. i went through a tough and long time where i loathed and could not understand my eldest, and have days where i can't stand my 2nd. it does take effort to break the habit of irritating each other. i had to find a way to love myself, take care of myself, and still discover and treasure my children's strengths. part of my disconnection with my eldest had to do with all the traits he shares with my dh, perhaps this is the same for you. i had to find my own confidence to be able to reach reed the way i wanted, and i know you can do it too since you want it.
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#6 of 18 Old 08-08-2006, 05:58 PM
 
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My 15 month old DS is exactly the same. Its all about Daddy. If Daddy is home then he wants to be cuddled and played with - and he wont come to me at all. Crawls away when I hold my arms out to him, screams if I pick him up, wont even let me comfort him when he's upset. If I am sitting with his Daddy, he pushes me away so he can have him to himself.

My DH has been great - telling him that's not acceptable and that he loves Mummy and DS has to be nicer to me - but he's too young to really understand any of that anyway.

even if Dad's not there - things are only a little better. I know Im not a bad mother - I know I dont deserve to be treated this way. My natural inclination is to change the way I act around him - protect own feelings by pulling away from him emotionally.

I've tried backing off - I never push him for affection - Im past expecting any. I dont think backing off works - I dont want to close myself off from him emotionally.

The only comfort is that you're not alone. I googled "My toddler hates me" and "My baby hates me" and found dozens of mothers going through the same thing. The experts say its a normal phase for them to go through and not to take it personally. Its very difficult not to.

I wont push him for affection - I just hope he grows out of it soon (likewise this has been going on for over 6 months now)

I guess in the meantime I dont want my behaviour towards him to have a lasting impact on our future relationship - I just have to give and expect nothing in return (isnt that the definition of motherhood anyway??)

Hope this helps
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#7 of 18 Old 08-08-2006, 06:25 PM
 
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I have found that I get more affection from my kids when I give more affection. I understand that 'I don't want a hug!', etc but affection can be as simple as a laugh or a smile. If you are feeling rejected, you may be withdrawing this sort of affection without realizing it. I know I have times when my daughter has irritated me so much, I just can't stand to look at her without glaring. It helps us if I make an extra effort to be nice and affectionate.

I have also found that though my DD was extremely affectionate as a baby, she has really dropped off as a preschooler. She often doesn't want hugs I offer and never wants me to hug or kiss her when she's hurt - she goes ballistic if I touch her when she's hurt even though she's crying that her leg hurts, etc. I do notice that she is more affectionate when she sees DS being affectionate. When he is making a game of giving me kisses, she wants to give me kisses too - even though she doesn't do that very often usually.

Mightymoo - Mom to DD (6) and DS (4)
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#8 of 18 Old 02-06-2008, 01:44 AM
 
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I really hope this post gets to you because I really feel for you in this situation. My son is almost 17 months. Before 6 months, he preferred strangers over us and would cry when someone handed him back to us. Then, between 6 and 12 months, he developed severe stranger anxiety, but he also preferred my husband over me, except at night time, and I was the one who had so much trouble sleeping, just what I needed right? I talked to my therapist about it, and she said that this was actually a good sign, that he preferred his father, because she said that if he was not secure in his relationship with me, he wouldn't be able to form a secure, trusting relationship with someone else besides me. This is not to say that moms whose babies or children always preferred them are wrong, she just said it was definitely a healthy sign that he had a strong relationship with his father. During that time when my husband got home I would try to play with him in the same way that my husband did, and he wouldn't have it.

Nowadays, he still wants his daddy, and he'll cry if I take him after my husband has arrived home, or if my husband hands him to me to leave, but I've come to realize that in our situation, it genuinely is the fact that my husband has to work, because the situation intensified when my husband started building our new home after work hours, which meant he was gone much more. This was actually a sign that daddy needed more time with him, not me. Think about it, he sees me all day, all the time, I'm the bad guy, I have to set all the rules, tell him no, etc., it's quite natural that when a new, fresh face comes along, one that comes along often and participates in his care, he would want to see him.

As for her pushing you away and refusing hugs and kisses, I don't know what to make of that, because I don't know the surrounding circumstances, but what I would say to you is that you should brainstorm some ways in which you may be able to improve your relationship, because every relationship needs improvement. I have had to do this recently with my son, because he has been really grouchy with me, and I realized that it's because I've been preoccupied with our move, so obsessed about having a clean place and wanting to clean it all the time, and he wants me to play with him, read books, do all the normal things, yet he doesn't understand that it's difficult to do that when your place is cluttered. But I learned that there are plenty hours in a day, I don't need to spend the whole day cleaning, and I don't need to spend the whole day playing. I can do both. I always did that before, but lately, I've been so obssessive, I guess because I feel I have to impress people. I'm afraid of people popping up or what have you, seeing his crumbs thrown on the floor. So find whatever it takes to do that, and you may see improvements.

Later!
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#9 of 18 Old 02-06-2008, 03:16 AM
 
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read Naomi Aldort 'raising our children, raising ourselves' . Children love spontaneously, they don't understand our concepts of affection(give me a kiss,hug,etc), if you stand back a bit and look at it it just sounds like a performance request, like so many other things babes are asked to do . It seems to me that there is a tiny person acting out more and more because they need....and their wants ARE their needs.....they need your undivided, unconditional, loving, joyous, present attention. Always assume the best possible motives of your children, given the facts.
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#10 of 18 Old 02-06-2008, 04:08 AM
 
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I would recommend the book "First Feelings: Milestones in the Emotional Development of Your Baby and Child" by Greenspan and Greenspan.

It does a nice job of talking about typical emotional development, and about things you can do. It sounds to me like you may indeed need to 'back off' a bit and take your relationship back to an earlier step -- you may need to go back to 'wooing' your daughter (Greenspan describes this in more detail), and then building from there. It's very very possible to develop the closeness you desire, so don't despair.

You can start by getting down on the floor and letting her lead. Observe what she does, what does she like to do? Instead of trying to get her to come to you, see if she'll tolerate you coming into her play. When she'll do that, then you can become engaged around things she's focused on.

A lot of children have 'favorite parents' and it's a common stage of emotional development that they 'choose' one parent over the other. Some kids do this more intensely and more overtly than others. And there's a reason that the phrases "momma's boy" and "daddy's girl" are around -- lots of kids appear to prefer the parent of the opposite gender!

I also second the book "The Five Love Languages of Children". (I'm currently reading it now.) It sounds like your personal love language might be 'words of affirmation', i.e. you need to hear that she loves you. Hers might be something very different (thought at this age, you can't really tell, she's too little.)

Some children aren't cuddly. Our ds is like that. I had to teach the child how to hug (he'd hold himself stiffly in your arms). I can count on one hand the number of times he's told me that he loves me (he's 6 1/2). When he was 2 1/2, he used to say "I really really like you." But he wouldn't say "I love you." His idea of 'cuddling' is to lie 3 feet away from me on the bed! And yet, he loves me no less intensely than his sister, who will freely give hugs, prefers to sleep physically touching me, and announces about once a day "I love you." He just shows it very differently (following me around the house, asking for my help, wanting me to sit next to him while he does his homework).

Finally, did you suffer from depression when she was born? If you had trouble breastfeeding, it's very possible the stress of that (and other things) could have led to depression - and if it's not been treated, then the hormones from this current pregnancy aren't going to help at all. Depression can interfere with your connection with a child. If you think you might be depressed, talk to your doctor or midwife. Think about counseling for yourself if you think it would help.

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#11 of 18 Old 02-06-2008, 11:56 AM
 
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Aw, mama, that's rough. I'm sorry.

I would suggest the book "I Love You Rituals." I don't have the author's name at the moment, but you can find it on Amazon. The whole book is songs you can sing and games you can play to strengthen your relationship/bond with your child and heal emotional wounds.

I hope things look up for you soon.
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#12 of 18 Old 02-06-2008, 12:23 PM
 
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We have a similar situation, but since dh is a SAHD, he's the parent who's taken for granted. And that's just it - dd takes him for granted. She knows he'll always be there - to get her what she needs, to play with her, to comfort her, to feed her . . . whereas I'm only home weekends and evenings and some evenings we hardly get any time together. I rarely see her in the morning because I almost always leave hours before she wakes up.

When I'm home, I have to hold her or play with her all the time. If I'm in the room, it's like dh doesn't exist except to irritate her. She doesn't want to play with him and ignores him, but keeps bringing me stuff. If I pick her up, and dh comes near, she yells and shakes her hand "No - away!" at him so he won't take her from me. The list goes on and on (though she does throw things at both of us and hit both of us at times . . . normal toddler stuff).

The big thing for us has been me reassuring dh and him trying not to take it personally, so he doesn't feel insecure. The fact is that there is a lot of love and security between them, and that's probably a big part of why she isn't as demonstrative with him. She feels less secure in her relationship with me, which is why she needs a lot of interaction, play, and reassurance (hugs, etc.) from me. I know she doesn't become his snuggle love bug when I leave, but she does like to fall asleep with him and she likes to play while he's around. I can totally understand how you would feel rejected by your toddler, but honestly I just think your presence is being taken for granted. You're a constant in your toddler's life, and that's a wonderful thing.

I think the main things I would recommend are (a) letting her decide the level of and frequency of snuggles/kisses/hugs etc. - you may actually get more if you don't ask for them - and (b) engaging with her in play. Read books with her, play silly games, make her laugh. Sit with her on the floor and let her do what she wants, and try to engage with what she's doing.

I also want to say that when I say letting her decide about when to snuggle/kiss etc., I don't mean emotionally withdraw. I would be very communicative emotionally with smiles, perhaps blowing kisses, saying "I love you" and so on. I just mean don't ask for kisses/hugs and don't initiate hugging/kissing frequently if she usually reacts with a swat or cry of irritation. Goodness knows that even with my very lovey toddler, there are plenty of times when the last thing she wants is a kiss or a snuggle.

Hope things get easier!
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#13 of 18 Old 02-06-2008, 12:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Romana9+2 View Post
We have a similar situation, but since dh is a SAHD, he's the parent who's taken for granted. And that's just it - dd takes him for granted. She knows he'll always be there - to get her what she needs, to play with her, to comfort her, to feed her . . . whereas I'm only home weekends and evenings and some evenings we hardly get any time together. I rarely see her in the morning because I almost always leave hours before she wakes up.
This is how it is for us too. DH is the SAHP and therefore I am DD's favorite. DD can be really crabby to DH but when it's just me and her, she's usually in a great mood. Poor DH.
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#14 of 18 Old 02-07-2008, 12:35 AM
 
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The OP wrote this post in 2004, right? Somehow the thread got back up here to the top.
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#15 of 18 Old 02-09-2008, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow...people have started responding to this all of a sudden, and it's been such a long time. I get teary when I read my old feelings. Things with my daughter are so much better. She is five years old now. While the affection and love and closeness are 100% better than they used to be, I still have a hard time with her wanting to spend time with me. She is very independant and stubborn, so she wants to play what she wants to play and is not very open to suggestions. I am so used to this now, that it doesn't bother me. She still prefers my dh over me, but as long as I am the one who puts her foot down, and the hubby is the one that always says yes, it's going to continue to be that way.
Thanks for all of the advice. I just had to give it time.
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#16 of 18 Old 03-05-2008, 02:00 PM
 
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I too can report a big improvement in my DS's attitude towards me. He is still not a super "cuddly" child - but when he needs a kiss or a hug he will now turn to me as often as he will turn to DH.

I agree with many of your posts that the parent who always says no - loses out on affection - its the only way that DS can rebel against authority at this age...

My DH has been fab - stepping up to be a bit tougher and being very supportive of my decisions so that DS knows that "What Mummy says - Daddy says" I think its made all the difference.

Now that he's almost 3 he can communicate so much better and will tell us straight if he doesnt want a hug - Im okay with that - he's also much better at telling us when he does want a hug - so it works both ways - Im definitely okay with that!!:
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#17 of 18 Old 08-24-2013, 04:36 PM
 
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Jenni

I saw this post and I have a 17 month daughter who acts the same way. I know you write this post years ago but can you update me on the progress with the bond between you and your daughter? I'm dying to know if they slowly grow out of this or if it is just something I better get used to. greensad.gif

Thanks for posting and being do "real". Made me feel better to know I am not the only one.

Elisa
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#18 of 18 Old 08-24-2013, 04:38 PM
 
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I'm sorry, I just saw the post where you updated us in 2008. Any changes since then? Thanks again for your original post.
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