July 12, 2008,
A.L. asks from Salt Lake City, UT on July 10, 2008
My oldest girl who is now 3 has ALWAYS been a mama's girl. She prefers me to her dad and any other person in the universe. I need help in two areas.
First, if I am around and my husband tries to help her...she yells/pouts/screams "No, I want mom to help!" Sometimes I tell her "No dad has to help" and sometimes I give in and just take over. My husband usually reacts with "No, dada do!" and they go back and forth until I want to throw them both out of the room. So, PLEASE if anyone has any ideas of how I should be reacting or preventing this situation...please advise. Oh, and she does GREAT when I'm not there. He watches her a couple of nights a week so I can run errands ect.
Also, when we are in public or visiting family. It depends on her mood, but if she is in a bad mood she will throw a fit if I don't help her. We are visiting family for a month and I am nervous about her acting like a brat around the family. I want to handle this better. Thanks in advance for you help!!!
R.K. answers from Salt Lake City on July 11, 2008
Allow your husband to interact with his daughter. If it's unpleasant to you (but not abusive) simply leave the room and let them carve out thier relationship.
If you're changing her surroundings and people for a month, you have the responsibility to make as much as possible the same for her. This may mean she's sewn on to your skin the WHOLE time, but, you know, that's the choice YOU made, not her, in leaving home and it'll be ok.
It sounds like you're stretched thin with a 3 year old and then twins. Think about HER life and reality having you completely absorbed with the other two, even when pregnant, because we all know baking two babies is different that just one. (unless it's adoption, in which case the change is overwhelmingly shocking to everyone)
I don't know your schedule and routine, so please forgive any suggestion that you're already doing; perhaps, every day you have a set time of just You and Her, before and after that, she has to share Mommy, but during THAT time it's JUST HER.
Back to daddy, you really do need to avoid setting up an oppositional parenting style. If you don't like how things are going, unless is actually dangerous, STAY OUT OF IT and talk to hubby alone later about how you'd like to handle it in the future. This will keep the unified front your children need for respect and security, it will avoid the all too popular game of pitting one parent against the other and seeking for an answer they like when one parent has already spoken, it will help you to discuss it with wisdom rather than emotion, avoid sending the messages that you're their to save the children from daddy and that daddy is some from whom they need saving as well as the message to your husband that he's an idiot, the pause in time may also show you than your first reaction may have been off track--it happens all the time, my husband will be dealing with something and I begin to feel protective because of whatever and then in the end I'm so glad I didn't interfere because he handled it well and better than I would have. Some of the best relationships come from DEEP carving of boundaries in the beginning...since this is a relationship of a lifetime and beyond, let them figure it out on their own terms so long as no one is being damaged.
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J.B. answers from Denver on July 11, 2008
...ony one thing to add to the good suggestions you've already received.
My momma's girl is 14 now and she was just like your daughter. (would cry every time I left the house alone, it lasted for a long time but eventually she became more indepented) And although she's still a mama's girl she also has a special bond with her dad.
Have your husband take her on "dates" ...litle special activies that are just for her and her daddy. Out for ice cream, a walk, trip to the playground --even the hardware store, ect. Dads are always the fun. And girls learn how they should be treated by men from their fathers.
Althought my daughter would rather go shopping she still looks forward to spending one on one time with her dad.
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D.K. answers from Denver on July 11, 2008
Keep having time with just she and her dad. My kids are almost four and seven and still do this when they visit their dad and are fine if I am not around. It is normal.
As far as helping, ALWAYS tell her firmly, "you try yourself first and I can help you if you really need it, you are a big girl". Encourage that all the time. I babysit a almost 3 year old that doesn't dress himself, had his mom put his shoes on and so forth, I refused and told him to try himself, sure enough he got it and we made a huge deal out of him being a big boy, he now does it himself even at home. Don't enable her by always jumping when she asks for help, even if she pitches a fit. Don't worry so much about what anyone thinks as much as what an important lesson you are teaching her. If she knows you will always help she will not gain the independence she really needs. A three year old should be able to dress themselves,feed themselves, put their own shoes on and help even brush their teeth (with supervision). Just stand firm and don't worry what your family thinks, it is normal three year old behavior just really make a big deal out of when she tries herself and make her proud of herself trying. The best gift a parent can give is helping a child grow and you will do that by not always doing everything for her. When she does it herself it will end the battles on who helps her!!!
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A.P. answers from Salt Lake City on July 11, 2008
Definitely a difficult situation. I had the same problem. I think it is important to work on letting your husband help. You can leave the room and just say this is Daddy's turn or Daddy's job. Discuss before hand with your husband what he and you should do, so your daughter starts to understand that only Daddy does this and that, and you do the other things. Fits are difficult, but stick to your guns, and be consistent. If she throws a fit, put her in the bathroom, or somewhere, and say unlshe stops she may not come out. If she comes to the door and opens it even if she is done screaming, she needs to be told she has to wait till you come and get her, but the faster she stops the faster you can get her. Do not talk to her if she opns the door crying, just put her back in and close the door. But be consistent. I am not an expert, but this worked with my daughter who is VERY strong willed.
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A.W. answers from Provo on July 11, 2008
My kids have gone through phases like this and I love my husbands response to it (every time). He always tells me that the kids should favor me - I am the one who is there for them day in and day out, I sacrifice more and in turn they naturally trust me more. During these phases they are great with him when I am not there but when I am around, nothing else will do. My husband knows the phase will pass and so he supports the kids (and me) through it. I would suggest being patient and let the phase pass.
I believe there is great power in talking with your kids no matter how old they are. I used to tell my 3 month old that he was going to stay with a friend and that mommy would be back to get him soon - a.k.a. he was going to stay with a babysitter. It may silly to tell a 3 month old anything passed simple talk but they hear and understand. Talk with your daughter positively about your husband. Tell her nice things that your husband has done for you and her and the family. Start talking about your family and how wonderful they are. Talk about them helping eachother. Show her pictures or video of your family and help her get to know them before you visit. Tell her about things that you will do and the room she will sleep in. Tell her about what she will do to help while visiting. Keep talking with her and I think you will be surprised and how she will respond. She need assurance that she can trust others, even when you are there.
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R.M. answers from Denver on July 11, 2008
i think that you need to nip this one in the bud before the twins start reacting like that. Right?? for everytime she lets her dad help i think you should praise her. in our house with 4 kids 2 boys and 2 girls they always come to mom and it took mom a long time to start saying "hey you know that man over there is your dad and he would love it if you ask him to help you" here is an idea -- you can say that you don't know how but daddy knows how -- go ask him. the more you give in the harder it will be when you go visiting. start a routine with it now so that she is used to it and knows what is going to happen and who will be taking care of her . there will be enough confusion with all the new places and new people around then it will comfort her to know what will be happening in her own family circle. plus it would help if he spent more time with the twins so that she could start fighting for his attention. best of luck
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M.W. answers from Fort Collins on July 11, 2008
Well now I can't say as I have had that problem. I had three boys.
But here is a suggestion. YOU have Daddy help you with several things and praise him for it. Do this alot and see if that doesn't help.
Other than that A., I can't think of anything other than forcing her to let him help and that would probably start a resentment. So just ask Daddy for help in several areas and see if that doesn't change her attitude towards Daddy's help.
Right now she has alot of sibling rivalry going on and that is why she wants you all the time. So be patient and tolerant of her feelings. The twins I am sure take alot of your time and attention. She does it to get her share of attention. LOL
R.J. answers from Salt Lake City on July 11, 2008
first of all " no dada do" ? She is 3 talk to her like a person not a baby. Second of all she needs to know she is not eventually going to get her way which is exactly what is happening she is minipulating you both with this. When she does these things she should be told that dad will help her or she will do herself. dont discuss it dont argue about it dont let your husband discuss or argue about it. Mom doesnt have time or cant help you right now, daddy will help you or nothing. Dont try to reason with a three year old it is not going to work. if she throws a fit the adults leave the room and let her have her tantrum she still wont get what she wants. Give her the choice if she throws a fit walk away both of you. It only takes a few times.