3-year old telling dad to 'go away' all the time

Tilanie - posted on 10/02/2011 ( 36 moms have responded )

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My almost-3 year old daughter has suddenly 'turned' on her dad and keeps on telling him to 'go away' which is really upsetting to him. He has bath her since birth but suddenly she throws a fit before or during or after the bath and pretty much anything else he wants to do he get's told to 'go away'. I personally think it is a phase of testing her boundaries with him? She also tells me to go away, but only every now and again. He is very gentle and barely raises his voice, where I am definitley more the disciplinarian. Any advise?

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♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 10/03/2011

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Barb, there are usually other signs besides just go away that would show a child has been molested. I'm not making light of it since my mother was molested by an uncle. But I don't feel it's fair to jump to that conclusion so quickly. My 7 year old will tell her step father that she doesn't want him around sometimes and I know for a fact that he's never been inappropriate with her.



Also please don't refer to us as girls since we all have children. We're ladies or women.

Karen - posted on 10/03/2011

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My daughter (almost 3) sometimes does this as well. We're trying to teach her a less hurtful way of saying it ("Daddy, I want to be by myself" etc). But I've found it's when she really wants to just be with me for whatever reason. So, she'll say, "Daddy go away." And he'll say, "Do you need mama time?". Usually she says yes and we accomdate when appropriate.
I think it's important for a child to feel okay with telling an adult that she doesn't want to be with him/her right then. It's up to us to teach them an appropriate way of saying it.

Lauren - posted on 10/04/2011

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My son is 2 and going through this stage too. Mostly its just a mommy preference, because if I am not around he is perfectly happy with his dad. He will sometimes do it to me when his grandma is around. I think he just wants the person who pays the most attention to him, with the least discipline. To combat this, my husband and I are trying some role-reversal.
Quick update. This resolved. Then it started again when he was 3.5 when we moved for my job and dad stayed home. Now he is 4 and dad is back working and now our son shows no preference between us at all.

Kris - posted on 10/04/2011

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Is she getting lots of attention/reaction for doing this? If so, sounds like a preschooler's dream! She's at the age where kids start playing with relationships, trying to figure out what works best for them in terms of getting attention so I recommend that you don' t give her any to reward this behavior. When my son (age 3 1/2) pulls tricks like this, we respond a couple of ways. First, the "rejected" parent doesn't make a big deal of it, other than maybe saying something like, "Oh, it hurts my feelings that you don't want to play with me, but I'll go do something else." How the non-rejected parent responds varies, but whoever it is stays as calm as possible. That doesn't mean there are no consequences, though. It might be something like, "I understand that you don't want Daddy to wash your hair tonight, but Mommy is busy right now. If you want, you can wait for Mommy to be ready, but that will mean that we don't have time for a story later." Or in another situation, "Oh dear, I can see that it made Daddy sad when you told him to 'go away' in such a mean voice. I'm going to go play with him to make him feel better, and you can play by yourself for awhile." Then just walk away and ignore the drama.

One other thing to keep in mind is that kids are mean. Sooner or later somone is going to reject your daughter on the playground (or whatever) and this is a great opportunity for you and your husband to model how to handle that rejection. Furthermore, if you take all the power and "fun" (and drama and attention are fun, believe me) out of her doing the rejecting NOW, then it's much less likely that she'll be the bratty "if you don't do what I want then I won't be your friend" kid on the playground later.

[deleted account]

My oldest step daughter came to stay two weeks with us this summer... she was in the habit of saying to her brother and sister (my bio kids) "leave me alone" So of course my almost 3 years old picked up on it and spent the better part of a little over a month saying it to me, my son and her dad.



Jumping to "the child may be or is being molested " is to me, kind of a stretch.. there would be other signs if something like that were going on.



She probably picked up from someone, especially if she is in daycare/preschool or something like that or it is just a phase. :)

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Diane - posted on 10/13/2011

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Yes...I would ck with a doctor to see if your daughter has experienced any trauma during bath or any other time in a males presence. It isn't something we want to think about but one incident can act itself out in a child in this way.

Elizabeth - posted on 10/05/2011

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Be aware that abuse canand does happen, but all 3 of my kids (2 boys and a girls) went through this. She is learning how to enforce her own personal boundaries. Help her to do that in a respectful manner, and give her the words to use. "Daddy, I want Mommy to help me, please." We have to teach them the words to use. Daddy can give her those words, too. "Honey, it hurts my feelings when you yell. Please ask for Mommy like this..." If he stays calm and unoffended, she'll get over it more quickly.

Judy - posted on 10/05/2011

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Three year olds are smarter then we think. Talk to your daughter and ask her why she does not want daddy around. Ask her if daddy hurt her or has touched her where she doesn't like it. She will tell you. This is not normal and she should want to be with both of you unless he has done something she did not like. So ask her and if she doesn't tell you right away ask again untill she tells you. There is a reason don't think it is a phase. Most children will tell if asked in the right way and if she trusts you.

Barbara - posted on 10/05/2011

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It could be that she has realized that Dad is a boy and we teach our girls certain things that they should and should not do, so maybe if you do the bath and Dad reads the story. It is sad when we jump to the fact of molestation but I can understand in this day and time.

Tilanie - posted on 10/04/2011

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Hi Kris, yes I think it is quite accurate what you are saying, she is very 'clever' and is certainly seeing where she can get the most reaction/attention from. Thanks for your suggestions, I will definitely try them.

Tilanie - posted on 10/04/2011

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Hi all, thanks for all the input. I can assure you that there is no abuse/molesting happening and from what I read and heard from other people this is definitely just a phase she is going through, and I am sure she will get over it soon.
Once again thanks for all the input.

Bethany - posted on 10/04/2011

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Completely agree with the "phase"...my son went through it as well. It is hard not to be able to process it as that, but in a little time it does end. Tell him to keep his chin up and to remember she is just a tot and doesn't understand the "reality" of its meaning!

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 10/04/2011

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Barb if you're not trying to be petty then why do you keep bringing it up? If you're "heart age" is older than me or whatever then give it a rest and allow me as a grown woman to express my opinion without constant refrains. God forbid I was brought up in a different era than you. And I never called you anything else nor called you out on anything else.

My mom and her sisters were afraid at first to say they'd been molested because of threats from the uncle. That's why I stated there are more evident signs of molestation and sexual abuse. I believe you'd know in your gut that something was going on besides just a phase.

Many children, including my 7 year old go through times when they don't want someone around or will just do it for attention. My 7 year old used to say she wouldn't give her pop (my dad) a kiss before bed some days when we still lived with them. He never did anything inappropriate, she was just testing her boundaries. She also doesn't want to call her dad because he doesn't do anything to foster a relationship.

[deleted account]

Thanks Jennifer. I do appreciate your comments. I do believe we need to be aware or on the look out for things like this. Whichever word you feel appropriate to use. I know of 3 instances personally where a child was molested and sorry to say it was at a church. If someone wants to think being called "girls" is silly, so be it. I don't have time for pettiness. If someone wants to call me on profanity(which I do not use) then call me out on it.

Nicole - posted on 10/04/2011

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my daughter who is turning 3 in a couple of days does the same thing to her dad. he gets home from work and wants a hug so he goes over to her and hugs her and she says "no i want mommy" and you can see it in his eyes that he is so hurt. and i know with all of my being that he is not molesting her. he would never NEVER do something like that to someone he loves so much. but i am glad i see the other posts in it being just a phase and it will go away because it hurts when i see my husband hurt.

[deleted account]

Meggy, to each his own. And, my feathers were not ruffled. You'res were. If you weren't offended you wouldn't have stated you wanted to be called women or ladies. Age of course has nothing to do w/it. I love being called a girl. I have a women's group at church between the ages of 32-60 something and they love being called girls. So, I guess it depends on your heart age and not your head. Either way I don't care what ya call me. Just don't call me the B word which I ain't. I know, bad Engish. :)

Joy - posted on 10/04/2011

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My three year old is learning that there is privacy and that there are some parts of her body that need to be private... she refuses to let anyone, me included, to see them or bath her in those areas. I do think its a phase and I always tell my daughter that I love her even if she wants me or her dad to go away. I do not give in to her telling me to go away, but i do let her know that i respect that she wishes us to leave her alone and then tell her why i have to stay and just go from there. I do not do the lets explain this to death either.. its usually just I can't go away because you need to be washed. And i leave it there. My husband is really good at disciplining her and she does that to him too so it may not have anything to do with how well or lack thereof of how you discipline. I think its is just a phase that you need to work through. She is testing her boundries and trying to get a reaction.

Leandra - posted on 10/04/2011

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it is a phase, though a hurtful one, all my nieces and nephews have gone through similar phases, where they will ignore one or another family member. I would just do what you normally do (so she knows it is not gonna change) try not to let her know you are hurt, and when she does it, go and do something really fun, and when she wants to participate tell her " I though you didn't want to play with me" she will learn

Lisa - posted on 10/04/2011

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I agree with whoever said that there would be other signs if the girl were being abused. Both my kids 3(boy) 20 months(girl) will push one or the other parent away at times. I think it is a phase not all kids go through. Sometimes my son hides from Daddy but we have learned it is because he thinks its funny to make my husband look for him. My daughter is a big Momma's girl and doesn't really like anyone else near her when I'm around.
Unless you daughter is showing other signs of distress such as... Isolating herself from you, "Empty" play (playing with toys very absently), or playing out inaporopraite things with her toys, pulling away from all physical touch or clinging to you all the time. There are many more but unless there are other signs I am sure it is just a phase.

Susie - posted on 10/04/2011

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My daughter is doing the same thing...she'll be 3 in February. The truth is, she just wants me. When I am not around, it's all about Daddy. She also doesn't want to be bathed anymore by anyone. I think it's just a phase. At least I hope so! Good luck!

Heather - posted on 10/04/2011

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Tell him whatever he does don't get discouraged and to NOT stop giving that love. My daughter does the same thing with my husband. She is 3 1/2 now, and for the longest time it would upset him but now he makes light of it and jokes around with her. She really would be mean to him and would want nothing to do with him at all. Going to bed is the funniest, he tells her every night when we tuck her in, "I am going to lay here, you lay there." Which every night she tells him “No Dad, your too big, go away.” But it’s become a huge fun game. She is a huge Daddies girl now and the older she becomes the bigger Daddies girl she becomes. I definitely think you are right to say it’s just a phase. She will get over it, but make sure your husband doesn’t stop doing those special things with her even if she doesn’t like them.

Mandy - posted on 10/03/2011

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Hi Tilanie. My daughter started this at the same age. She is nearly 5 and still does it at various times of the day. I think that it is just that sometimes they want their mums since we are the main carers and also to get a reaction (seems like a fun thing to do to them). Two things that have helped us is to ask her why she doesn't want daddy at the moment. Then I also let her know that it upsets me when she talks to him this way. I get her to say I don't want you right now so it doesn't sound as rejecting. Just remember that empathy is still emerging at their age. Hope this helps.

Jennifer - posted on 10/03/2011

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Barb. I to thought the same as you. I have 4 girls and a grand daughter. None of then have ever acted like that with daddy or grand-daddy. I think it wise and safe to at lease be aware of that possibility at ALL times with any man. I was never molested but know several girls that were. And you can all me girl too even though I'm almost 50;) I guess it all in the way your raised. I find no disrespect in it

Krista - posted on 10/03/2011

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I too think it's a phase. My 2-year-old son went through that just a couple of weeks ago. He wanted NOTHING to do with his father, and would turn away and yell if my husband even approached him. It went on for a few rough days, and then just as quickly, he snapped out of it. This evening, they were having a grand old time playing together and hanging out. My advice to your husband is 1. Don't take it personally, and 2. Don't withdraw. Just calmly say, "Okay, but I love you."

What helped us was for Mommy and Daddy to do stuff together. So if he wanted to sit on my lap, I made sure that my husband sat next to us. I didn't force them on each other, but also made sure that my son got used to the idea that Mommy and Daddy are a package deal.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 10/03/2011

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Barb, no need to get your feathers ruffled, I didn't even know your age. But I have daughters who I call my girls- heck my husband sometimes asks how his girls are doing including me. I never said I was offended, I just think it's silly. My grandma is 90 and doesn't refer to my mom and her sisters as her girls.

Beck - posted on 10/03/2011

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I'd bet this is something she's heard someone else say. You need to get to the root of this. I don't think it's a phase.

[deleted account]

Yes, Meggy, you are right on the first point. But, being molested myself, that is the first thing I thought of. And as far as being called girls, I'm 72 and I refer to all who are older than myself girls. Even my own girls, I call them that and they have children also. I love being called a girl. Because I am one and also it makes me feel younger. So, I'm sorry you were offended but in this world today someone is going to be offended by the slightest thing and really, I don't have time for such small stuff.

Krystal - posted on 10/03/2011

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It is probably just your daughter being 3 years old. She is getting to the age of wanting to test her boundaries, and is understanding that Daddy will let her do some things and Mommy will let her do others, and vise versa. I say if this same behavior continues for more than a month to seek the advice of your pediatrician. When in doubt, always mention it to your child's regular doctor. There may be an underlying cause for this behavior, or it may just be a simple "phase" that she is going through. If it is a phase that she is going through, don't encourage it. When she says "Daddy go away", simply tell him to walk away. Don't argue with her. Hopefully if it is a phase, it will pass. But, definitely check with your pediatrician. Best of luck to you and your hubby.

[deleted account]

I certainly hope you girls are right. I would hate to think that another dad did not know the proper boundries.

[deleted account]

I hate to post this but.....the first thing I thought of.....is he molesting her? And yes, it is a possibility. Why would she want him to stay away. You say he has bathed her since birth....think about it. Without saying a lot here,children do not know how to deal with this. They are afraid they will not be believed and/or taken away. Yes, that was me. I would venture to say that is what he is doing. I certainly hope not.

Tilanie - posted on 10/02/2011

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Thank you so much for all the advise, just as I thought! Yip, dad need to 'crack the (proverbial) whip' a bit more....

Elizabeth - posted on 10/02/2011

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Since she is doing this to him much more than you, and you have said that you are the disciplinarian, is he possibly too lax? My daughter walked all over her dad including telling him to leave her alone because he had no boundries.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 10/02/2011

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Yes it's definitely a phase. This one should pass sooner or later, Just wait until she's school age and tells you she doesn't need to get up for school because it isn't light yet or doesn't have to go to bed because it isn't dark yet.

Amy - posted on 10/02/2011

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I agree with Emma it's just a phase but the bigger deal/issue you and your husband make out of it the longer it's going to last, so I suggest you both put on your poker faces till it passes.

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