I have a just turned 4-year-old step daughter whose life I have been in for almost two years. In July, we went on vacation (myself, my 16-year-old son, one of his friends, my 12-year-old daughter, one of her friends, my husband, his 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

We got there on Sunday and by Monday evening the youngest was constantly crying. Nothing happened, nothing was wrong with her and nothing had changed. She just started crying whenever I'd talk to her, her dad got out of her sight (even when he went to the bathroom). This lasted all week making things absolutely miserable for the rest of us.

It's now October and it hasn't stopped. She used to be fine with me, no problems between us at all. I play with her, bath her, fix her hair and include her with my daughter when we do things. But now I can't even ask her a question or look at her without her bawling.

I can't take it any more, I don't care if we get her or not when we're supposed to. I'd rather be at work than home when she's there. I'm at my wits' end; neither my kids nor I can take the constant crying and whining. I love kids but she has turned into such a brat I don't want to be around her.

  • Welcome to Parenting! That does sound exhausting. Has her dad talked to her about why she's crying (since she apparently can't talk to you)? Have you taken her to a pediatrician or counselor to get some outside advice?
    – Acire
    Oct 6, 2015 at 0:10
  • Is it possible that she has learned that this behavior gets her lots of attention? How do you react when she starts crying? Does everyone try to comfort her?
    – user7678
    Oct 8, 2015 at 14:49
  • Her dad has talked to her, she says she likes me and when asked if I'm good to her she says yes. She's not been taken her to doc/therapist. He's not that involved in that aspect of their lives, which I disagree with. I won't force affection on her because if she said something to her mom like I made her hug me or whatever the mom is the type that would totally take it out of text and possibly call child services.
    – user19287
    Oct 8, 2015 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


If she really doesn't want any physical contact, I wouldn't force it. I would try to keep a smile and just look at her and tell her that you still love her and you will be there for her when she is ready. I had two different step-mothers growing up. My experience with the first one was horrible, so I projected this experience onto my expectations for my second step-mom. The first one also fueled my mistrust with things she'd say about my dad's new wife when I would visit her.

This may be the situation with your step-daughter, as well. It could also be a reaction to something that is happening with her other mother and she assumes that you will turn out the same. This was the case with me. Now, even though my dad and his 3rd wife are now divorced, I still consider her my mom because she never forced any relationship other than "care-giver" and she was there for me when no one was, including my dad.

Also, just be patient with her age, too. My daughter is 5, and cries if you pick out socks she doesn't want, even if you are completely willing to switch them out. I think this is a sensative age for girls.

Some people are just more sensitive and have a harder time controlling their outward emotions, too, especially when they can't explain or don't understand their emotions. I am one of these people, and at 35, I still a struggle to explain how I feel without crying, which is a struggle within my marriage.

Counseling could help, too, though I haven't had much luck.


It's possible that she associated the vacation with some traumatic event associated with her mother. She might have remembered or seen something that triggered this behavior. You need to be friend with her again. Make her feel special, don't forget to kiss her and hug her everyday, even if she doesn't wants (but don't let her see anger in you if she reacts bad) and tell her how special she is even if she doesn't cares. Eventually she will like you again. Do some activities together. Don't forget your other sons, do the same for everyone as much as possible. When you are close to her again, try to talk with her and understand what she is going through. She is growing she might be seeing things in a different way now, compared to when she was younger.

Best of luck

  • 3
    Are you seriously suggesting the OP pulls the girl into a hug and kisses her while she cries and presumably physically resists?
    – Meelah
    Oct 7, 2015 at 16:00
  • 1
    I agree with Meelah. It is totally unwise to force phisical contact with a child, if you don't know the reason of her behavior. It can make things worse a lot. Have your 12 y.o. good relations with your stepdaughter? Maybe she could ask her (for example during some playtime) why does she cry so much lately. It's impossible to set a credible diagnosis at this point, cause it could be anything, even a nightmare she had about you.
    – Visedre
    Oct 8, 2015 at 13:48

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