Recently, my 3.5-year-old daughter started saying, “I don’t love you, I love mommy.” Also the same phrase with "like" instead of "love".
It’s killing me to hear her say that. But, I know she’s little, and emotional, and doesn’t have a full grasp of the nuances of language yet. So, I’m trying to figure out why.
Quick background: I’ve been the main care provider for most of the 3.5 years. Two days a week, my wife’s parents watch her. When my wife is home from work and on weekends especially, she takes the reins. For well over 3 years my daughter was inseparable from me. But, over the past 3-4 months, as my stress level has become very high, and I’ve snapped (yelled) at her a couple of times (for doing the normal toddler button-pushing stuff, like tantrums and whining, etc.) she’s become quieter towards me.
Now, for the past couple of weeks, she’s started saying, “I don’t love you I love mommy.” I’ve asked her why, and it might have been the yelling, but, she’s been mostly not giving an answer. The few times I had lost my temper and yelled at her, I apologized after and explained that it wasn’t her fault, but mine. Before apologizing and after, I talked about the behaviors that led to my outburst and why they’re not acceptable, then I reiterated my apology. It all seemed fine after.
She still plays with me, doesn’t push me away, and is still excited when I come home. But, the “I don’t love you” has started cropping up randomly, and I don’t know what to do. I just want to make sure there isn’t more I need to do to fix this; other than handling my stress and my time better and giving it time. Does anyone have advice?