My 3.5 year old wont be nice to her father - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 02-26-2014, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Ever since she was 2, my youngest has withheld any and every kind of affection from my husband, her father. We won't force her to give him HUGS and kisses, but she flat-out ignores him when he talks to her and, when she does respond, it's nothing short of bratty. She's snide, rude, and, in many ways, acts like a teenager that is just beginning puberty and has no idea what to do with all those hormones. We just don't know what to do anymore. My husband is well past trying not to take it personally, as its been a year and a half since this started, and I hate seeing this happen. He's an excellent husband and father, and I don't know why this started or why it's still happening.
She makes him ask nicely (May I please have a hug and a kiss, please) when he wants physical affection and we don't discourage that because she does it with everything, not just hugs and kisses. She makes her sister ask nicely for a toy she's playing with, and things like that. But, increasingly, she is making him ask and then telling him no. She runs away like it's a game, but he can't always chase her because he has chronic back pain. We tell her daddy is hurt and he can't play like that right then, but she doesn't listen. I know, I know, she's three.. We try to reason with her, "Would you be happy if you were hurt, etc., etc." and she agrees with us, but then keeps running away. When it's time for bed he asks for H&K and she'll tell him no. He says ok, walks out the door, we go through our goodnight routine, I close the door, and she starts fussing because daddy didn't give her a hug and a kiss. We've alternated between him telling her hat he asked nicely and she said No, so the consequence is no H&K, or he goes back in and gives her H&K. It feels like manipulation. We try to be consistent, but it's really difficult when we don't even know what to do in the first place. She used to not like strangers, either, but now she talks to them more - and more nicely - than she talks to daddy.
All of this and she tells me all day that she misses daddy and wishes he'd come home - just to be mean when he does return. I try to call him so she can talk to him. I talk to her about how daddy is coming home and how do we show people that we missed them? She gives all the right answers, but seems to forget them when he walks through the door. I try to gently remind her, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. We're desperate, please help!
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#2 of 4 Old 02-26-2014, 11:17 AM
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My friend's daughter was a nightmare to her father when she was young. It was so hard to watch her treat him that way that sometimes we made excuses not to visit. In her case, it was definitely related to insecurity about him not being there. He worked quite a bit, and she stayed home with her mom. I wish I had good advice for you. I think in their case time was really the cure. We have a version of this in our house, too, and it is definitely hard on my DDs Dad.0
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#3 of 4 Old 02-26-2014, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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That may have something to do with it.. She stays home with me and her father works. He has a regular job, 8-5, but their bed time IS 7.. If I made it 730-8 and made sure he got some extra time with her, maybe that would help. We tried having him take some special time with her on the weekend, and it seemed to help, but we've slipped on that. I guess it's time to pick it back up again! I hope their relationship improves; it's so hard to have watched this for nearly 2 years. Her father is SO broken up over it. Thank you for your response :-)

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#4 of 4 Old 03-01-2014, 12:13 PM
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I think you need to change the power dynamic.  It kind of sounds like your dd is a mini Marie Antoinette, holding court over your whole family.  If my DD speaks rudely to her dad, I would say firmly, "DD, speak kindly to your dad."  If she's angry about something, maybe "DD, I understand that you're angry about x, but you need to speak kindly to your dad."  And I wouldn't really be inclined to discuss it or give her much attention until she corrected herself.  I expect DH to do the same if DD speaks rudely to me.  And, FWIW, if DH ever spoke rudely to DD, I would gently call him on it too.  In your case, to shake things up, I might even go further and act a little shocked when she acts rudely: "Wow, DH, that must have really hurt your feelings.  Let me give you a hug."


I guess if I were DH, I would stop asking for hugs and kisses and wait for her to come to him.  That is setting up an opportunity for her to wield her power :)  He can still express his love in words and play, etc.  And, as you said, you might try to get out of the way when he's around - like leave the house - and let them do a special activity together.

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-Ecstatic mommy to amazing DD, 2/07 :
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