3 year old tells daddy she doesn't like him — The Bump
Pre-School

3 year old tells daddy she doesn't like him

Hi. My 3 year old DD in the last few months has started randomly saying "I don't like you" to her daddy.  It breaks DH's heart, and we are not sure why she is doing it.  He's good to her. He spends plenty of one on one time with her, takes her fun places to play, etc.  I'm completely perplexed, because until about age 2, DH was seriously her whole world.  I'd started wondering why I was chopped liver, LOL! Then around 2 1/2 it's like a switch flipped and now she acts kind of hateful toward him. As far as I can tell, nothing has changed about their relationship, same amount of time together, etc.

 Any thoughts or suggestions on why she's doing this, and how I can help? I did mention it to her pedi at her 3 year well visit, but he couldn't offer much other than, "sometimes kids just pick one parent over another".  I get that, and I'd be alright I guess if she just seemed to favor one of us, but this outright nastyness towards DH is confusing...

 Adding an extra level of confusion, at times, she's still very loving and cuddly with him.  This hateful stuff is random.

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Re: 3 year old tells daddy she doesn't like him

  • I think this is something normal.  Harmon and the twins all do this.  When Miriam our nanny is here and I'm stopping by they take turns hating me and loving me.  Than in the evening they do that with dad.  I have theory that it is just something that happens like they have to protect the primary care-giver.
    Mom to Harmon 1/17/08 and twins Rachel & Callum 8/28/09 Photobucket 29o0v13.jpg
  • my son went through this.  When it was just him and daddy it was fine but when it was the 3 of us it was Mommy everything.  This lasted maybe the first 6 months of this year or so (he was 3 in may) and now he is back to himself, although there are still times when he seems to favor one over the other.  I would say wait and watch and hopefully she will just get over it.
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  • DD does this occasionally with DH.  With her the circumstances are different because she's always been more attached to me and is used to me doing stuff for her most of the time - not that DH is a bad father at all, but especially since he graduated from law school and is working full time, with me as a SAHM, DD spends a lot more time with me.  Usually when she says she doesn't like him it's when he's offering to do things for her or spend time with her.  (BTW she does sometimes say she doesn't like me, but usually when she's mad at me.)

    Usually how I deal with it is to explain to her that when she tells her dad (or anyone) that she doesn't like him, it hurts his feelings, and she wouldn't want anyone to tell her they don't like her.  I don't get angry with her but I make it clear it makes her dad and me very sad.  Empathy (from what I can tell) is a concept that she grasps more fully than most three-year-olds, but it's still not always natural to her, so it is something we are working on.  It has definitely gotten better, though.

    DD born 10/10/07 * DS born 11/25/11 * #3 due 3/9/2015
  • It's completely normal, kids this age are just trying out things and seeing what reactions they can get.  Tell your DH to not take it personally.

    When DD says this occasionally we make a game out of it. "Oh you don't want me to be your mommy?"  "What would you like your new mommy to look like?" etc.  

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  • Normal but we are also quick to talk about how that is unacceptable to act that way towards someone we love.  I told her it is okay to be mad at us and not like what we do but that doesn't change how she loves us or vice versa.  We kept on with our normal course of switching off nights with her (one night one of us puts her to bed and then the other puts DS to bed and we switch the next night, etc.) and I think that helped her gradually get over it.  She's a lot better now.


    image
    DD -- 5YO
    DS -- 3YO

  • DD says this to DH alot. He is very involved with her and spends a lot of time with her, so I think this is her way of telling DH to back off and that she needs to spend time with mommy. Like PP, we tell her that this hurts his feelings and that's not ok, but it us ok for her to tell us that she wants time with mommy. I think she just lacks the ability to put what she's needing into words, so we ask her questions to try to figure out why she's saying this. Most of the time it's as I said above, but sometimes it's because DH has disciplined her and I will back him up in front of her.
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  • Just read all the responses and had to say the only thing that really made my dd realize that it was hurtful to say those kinds of things was to go way overboard with dramatic crying and sadness.  Hopefully it's a time when you're both around because you can say to her- "look, you really made daddy sad when you said that- we don't say those mean words"  give her some words she should say instead like "I'd like to play with mommy now" or...?   Then show her how to help make him feel better by hugging and saying sorry. 
  • Thanks everyone for the responses.  I guess it does help to know my kid isn't the only one breaking her dads heart! Geez!

    Anyway, I put some of your suggestions into play, and she's rarely said it these last couple weeks!

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