Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My daughter is afraid of her aunt.

My daughter is completely terrified of my sister-in-law and I don't know what to do. Anytime she sees her, she starts to cry hysterically and won't stop. I feel awful because my sister-in-law has never done anything that I can think of to warrant this type of response and it really bothers her. It also bothers my husband and his mom because the baby gets so upset when she is with them.

My daughter doesn't really do this with anyone else. Usually if it's someone new, she'll be a little shy with them, but then is OK. She doesn't see my sister-in-law a lot, but the fact that she doesn't do this when we go anywhere else makes me think that it is my sister-in-law. Any advice on how can I get my daughter to not have this reaction when she sees her? Part of me wants to say she'll grow out of it, but this has been going on since she was 6 months old and isn't getting any better. I don't quite know where to turn on this one.

Jennifer


Dear Jennifer:

You stated, "She doesn't see my sister-in-law a lot," it could be stranger anxiety. Regardless she is little and she is more important than your sister in laws feelings. It is too bad she has a reaction to her however it is more important she be comforted and her feelings are validated. Never push a child to get past their feelings towards someone. Either she will outgrow it or when she gets more verbal she can tell you what is happening. My bet is it will go away.

Hopefully you are not leaving her alone with your sister in law when she reacts this way. Not because your sister in law is the problem but because an infant not able to express their anxiety would be terrified to be left alone with someone they already react to in this manner.

I do encourage you to realize that a child's reactions are very critical to them developing a sense of personal power. Sometimes we make the mistake of pushing children towards someone they have reacted to and thereby teaching them not to listen to their own inner guidance. This learning to trust one's instinct is critical to their development as a whole human being. It also reflects on your relationship with your daughter. If parenting becomes about other people's feelings and pleasing others your relationship with your daughter will suffer. I know it is an uncomfortable position to be in however you are more capable of dealing than your daughter and you will get passed this.

Sincerely,

M Kay Keller