I have two kids - a nearly 7 year old boy and a just turned 3 year old girl.
For the past 12 months, my 3 year old daughter essentially refuses to speak to me unless it suits her:
- When she comes into our bedroom in the morning, she will cuddle her mother, but won't acknowledge my presence. She will ignore me if I speak to her, or eventually say "noooooooooooo!" and shrink away from me if I ask her for a cuddle
- She sometimes gets upset with me just for looking at her
- She ignores me when I speak to her or ask her a question
Except for when it suits her. If her mother isn't around, she reverts back to her old self of being friendly with me - we play games or have a tea party or do puzzles together and have a generally good time.
But as soon as mum is back in the picture, she reverts back to pretending I don't exist. She (and her brother was the same) has been in "terrible twos" since about 18 months old, but recently her attitude towards me is getting worse.
The only exception is bed time. I do the bed time routine for both our kids, every single night. Bath, get dressed, brush teeth, read story, into bed, prayers and then goodnight. I rarely ever have an issue with bedtime.
It's really starting to wear me down. The only thing I can think of is that I do tend to be the one who hands out discipline if I am home, and her attitude means that if I ask her to clean up her toys and she ignores me, she eventually ends up in time out (after warnings and a count to 3). But Mum also hands out discipline in the same way when I am not home.
I had (and continue to have) an excellent relationship with my son, and I just want to have a similar relationship with my daughter.
Seems I've been a bit light on the background information, so here we go:
- She started her "terrible twos" around 18 months, which was also when she became fiercely independent. She won't accept help from anyone for anything unless she is, for example, literally stuck inside an inside out t-shirt and can't move her arms to help herself.
- When she does need help, her first point of call is Mum. Sometimes she won't accept help from me either, and will be very upset with me if I continue to help her.
- She is like this with strangers as well, but I expect that behaviour around strangers
- She hates Time Out. Most of the time the threat of Time Out is very effective. But...
- She can have a tantrum for 30-45 minutes over inane things. When we see her starting to break down, we disengage from her and will take her somewhere that she can flail around without hurting herself or anything else. These tend to end well with her coming to give us a hug and an apology, along with us discussing with her why this happened. She never has a tantrum outside of the house.
- Even though bed time is easy and the best time I have with her, she still won't let me kiss her (she will wipe it off if I do it anyway)
- After reading "remember to tell her that you like her as well as love her" from Willow below, I dropped down her her level and asked her "Is Daddy your friend?" and she said "No" (as expected), to which I replied "Well, you are Daddy's friend and I would like to be your friend". This seemed to make her stop and think. She said that maybe I can be her friend again later.
- I take her and my son to church every Sunday on my own. She loves going to Church and is exceedingly well behaved - but again, this is not uncommon when her mother is not around.
- Her mother is sympathetic to my problem, and she helps when she can. Sometimes (not always) she will tell her that if she needs help, to go and ask Daddy. My daughter then usually finds a workaround to her problem that doesn't involve me.
- We have no family here. We are Australians, but are living in the US (we moved when my daughter was still an infant). She is better with her grandparents over video chat (and on the very rare occasion that we see them in person) than she is with me.