Who unleashed the jealous todder?

Big adjustments to a toddler's life can sometimes have unexpected consequences.

This concerned boyfriend finds that out when he suddenly has a very jealous toddler on his hands whenever he goes near his girlfriend.

Dear Dr Cawood

My girlfriend and I have been dating for 3 months. She has a 14 month old adorable girl, who is extremely jealous of my girlfriend hugging or kissing me. She screams and pushes us apart from each other whenever we hug or kiss.
How do we handle this behaviour? Do we allow her to continue this behaviour, or is there some way to constructively defuse her jealousy? This is the first relationship that her little girl is exposed to since she was born, so the behaviour is understandable.


Dr Anne Cawood offers her professional advice on the matter:

Hi Pierre

It is great that you are so understanding and show such insight.

At 14 months she is still too little to know how to express her feelings. If she has had her Mom to herself until now, then it is really understandable. The best way to handle it is to be firm but gentle. Give her lots of attention – make sure her needs are met e.g. if she hasn’t seen her Mom for a while, ensure that her Mom hugs her first – and spends a bit of one-on-one time with her. Then, firmly limit her when she tries to push her apart. You can make a bit of a joke out of it- “We need hugs too” etc.

At this age children do not share easily – whether it be a Mom or a toy! She will slowly learn that you are not a threat and that her Mom is still there for her. Just be patient – but do work on the firm – but gentle approach!

My book “Toddlers Need Boundaries” may help you develop effective parenting skills – if you are going to be an ongoing part of her life!

Good luck!
Dr Anne Cawood

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