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Question
Posted by: Anon | 2010/02/08

3yr old - Jealousy

My little girl will be 4 this year. Her dad left us 3 years ago, even though we were not married we used to live together. He cheated an chose the other woman. Since then I have not dated because I have not trusted anyone, and my daughter has been my world. She knows that she means everything to me and I am thankful that i am able to give her a good home and a stable environment without the support of her father. Its feels good when people compliment me on my daughters good manners and behaviour. The problem now is that I can see that she appears to be jealous. She doesnt like people around me and if I am not paying her any attention she upset. This morning as I was getting dressed she told me that I cannot wear a dress to work because I musnt look pretty. I asked her why and she told me that I musn' t get a boyfriend. When I further questioned her she told me that she is my boyfriend. She didnt even want me to walk with her but instead she wanted me to carry her. I know that this is probably my fault but at her father has already left us and I didnt want her growing up thinking that I am going to leave her as well. What do i do? Is this normal behaviour in these circumstances?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Make sure you share with her your cautious appreciation of how good the world can be, rather than a sense thast nobody can be trusted.
Though a close and exclusive relationship with a child can be very satisfying to both of you, especially at this formative stage, it can lead to the situation you describe, when she considers other people unnecessary and doesn't BOTHER to interact with them.
This-morning's conversation was so revealing, wasn't it ? YOu mustn't look pretty, so you don't get a boyfriend.
You need some long peaceful chats with her about her feelings, whether she fears being abandoned. Explain how infinite love is, so that even if you came to love someone else as a BF, it wouldn't result in you loving her any the more - instead, it'd just find someone else who would also love her.
The regression towards more infantile behaviour such as asking to be carried, suggests something is bothering her more specifically about her losing your attention - and she remembers when she had to be caried she got more physical attention, and wants to re-capture that.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Purple | 2010/02/08

I think this is pretty normal at this age. If her dad was still living with you, she would probably do this to him. My son has spent the last few years telling me that he is going to marry me. I' ve heard from friends with children who are in grade 1 now that their children have come home and said they aren' t going to marry mom anymore, they' re going to marry their teacher now.

Children get very close to their main care giver and to people they admire, they don' t have a full undestanding of adult relationships though.

Spend time reassuring her that no matter how pretty you look and how many other adult friends you have, that you will always love her, because a moms love for her children can' t be broken (that' s how my son describes it - he says our love can' t get broken).
You need to make it clear (gently) that you are the adult and you' ll dress in a way that you feel is appropriate and you will be friends with who you feel is appropriate, but at the same time show her that you underatnd her feelings and why she is making comments like that. She' s probably a bit afraid that if you had someone in your life, you would spend less time wit her.

Maybe you also need to start interacting with your own friends in your home while she plays nearby so that she can see that you still give her attention. It also gives you a chance to teach her how to behave and touch you on the arm and say excuse me if she needs your attention urgently, how not to interrupt etc.
It will still be chaos sometimes, but that is how she will learn - by doing and being shown the right way.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/02/08

Make sure you share with her your cautious appreciation of how good the world can be, rather than a sense thast nobody can be trusted.
Though a close and exclusive relationship with a child can be very satisfying to both of you, especially at this formative stage, it can lead to the situation you describe, when she considers other people unnecessary and doesn't BOTHER to interact with them.
This-morning's conversation was so revealing, wasn't it ? YOu mustn't look pretty, so you don't get a boyfriend.
You need some long peaceful chats with her about her feelings, whether she fears being abandoned. Explain how infinite love is, so that even if you came to love someone else as a BF, it wouldn't result in you loving her any the more - instead, it'd just find someone else who would also love her.
The regression towards more infantile behaviour such as asking to be carried, suggests something is bothering her more specifically about her losing your attention - and she remembers when she had to be caried she got more physical attention, and wants to re-capture that.

Reply to cybershrink

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