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Two-Year-Old Daughter Shuns Father


My 2-year-old daughter does not want anything to do with her father. She screams whenever he talks to her, and she refuses to show him any affection   even a hug. My husband is in the Air Force, and he was deployed around our daughter’s first birthday. He is back now, and I have tried to suggest that he just give her time and space. His response is that as her father, she should do what he says. I am at my wits’ end. Last night my husband actually yelled and cussed at her when she would not let him help her with her coat. What do I do?



It sounds like your husband’s feelings are getting hurt, and this is completely understandable. Keep trying to encourage him to not take her actions personally, even though that is very difficult. You are correct to advise him to take things slowly. Just his presence in your home is a huge change for your daughter. It may be causing her to feel a little uncomfortable. But yelling at her is only increasing her discomfort.  

Though his frustration is understandable, remind him to be patient with her. She is observing him and needs to feel safe with him. Have him assist you with your household tasks so your daughter can see you trusting and interacting with him.  When you are interacting with her, have your husband in the room so she knows that if you are there, it is OK for him to be there as well.  

She will continue to want you to do things for her because that is normal for her. Eventually, your husband will become “normal,” too, and she will approach him for assistance. But if he continues to push for her affection and raise his voice in frustration, she will continue to withdraw from him.

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