Sabrina is concerned about her relationship with her daughter:
“Why is it so hard for my child to be nice to others? I give her plenty of love and attention but it seems like it’s never enough. She even has a hard time being nice to me sometimes, and she and I were always very close. It’s as if she’s angry about something but she doesn’t know exactly what it is. If things don’t go her way immediately she seems to fall apart. I’m running out of ideas and it seems to get worse every day. What should I do?”
Dr. Howard replies:
I’m not sure how old your child is, if she is over 18 months, perhaps she’s trying to begin to individuate from you as her mother. That stage is sometimes referred to as the terrible twos. It might be helpful to read some childhood development books to understand where she is in her psychological development. That said, does she understand that treating other people badly is not okay? Can she read your face, voice, energy and body language? Are you owning the directive that your child treat you and others kindly?Does she have consequences when she acts out? Next time she is angry, see if you can help her understand her anger by suggesting different things that she might be mad about as well as other feelings that might be there such as fear or sadness. It seems that when we are a parent it helps if we can cultivate our intuition. When you say she “falls apart” maybe it would help to teach her how to soothe herself when her feelings overwhelm her. How might some of this relate to you regarding boundaries and limits as well as your overwhelming feelings? She’s lucky to have a mother who cares so much.
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