DD scared to death of Aunt - WWYD

Discussion in 'The Toddler Years(1-3)' started by ckreh, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. ckreh

    ckreh Well-Known Member

    So DD has had stranger anxiety for about 6 months and is getting better. However she is scared to death of DH's sister who is 44 years old and her boyfriend. At the last dinner get together she cried hysterically into my chest for 2 hours and would not let go of me. Now this weekend we are getting together for my birthday so we thought if we started speaking positively of the brunch she would not freak out on Sunday. Well already she is starting to cry and say no she is not going.

    SIL does not help the situation because she rarely comes to see the twins even though she lives 10 minutes away. When DD cries she has scolded her for crying even though I have told her that she has a normal fear for a 2-1/2 year old. She has no maternal instincts and is more concerned that get togethers are "ruined" by DD's crying.

    So I figure my birthday brunch will be terrible and then there is Christmas in a couple weeks. I would like to just cancel it all, but that won't fly with his family. DH and I just don't know what to do. The ped told us this is normal; she is a bright child and they are usually more sensitive to stranger anxiety even though this is her aunt and no stranger.

    I just don't know what to do to help DD get over this phase. They have said not to ignore her when she is crying and have people approach her slowly until she warm up to them, but it is not working. Have any of you experienced this? If so, did you find anything that helped the situation?
  2. ldrane

    ldrane Well-Known Member

    I would say don't force it. It is probably causing her to have even more anxiety by forcing her to interact with the Aunt or even by having the Aunt 'scold' her. My two are extremely shy with strangers. To the point where they bury their heads into myself or DH and won't even look up. We have started telling them that it is ok if they don't want to speak to strangers, but when someone speaks to them (and mommy and daddy are with them) then they at least need to wave or nod their heads in acknowledgement. Even if they forget to do this, I have no problem with reminding them in front of the person "can you wave hello or give them a high five, etc...".

    I think in time (if not being forced to do so) she will eventually warm up to the Aunt. By seeing you and your husband interact with her (greetings with hugs, kisses, etc...) creates a good example for your DD. I would also have a little heart to heart with the Aunt and insist that she back down and not be so pushy. As an adult, the Aunt should understand not to take it personally. Stranger anxiety is a completely normal part of growing up. I know with relatives though it is a fine line of coping with the stranger anxiety and avoiding hurt feelings from said relatives.

    Best of luck with your upcoming events. I would also just continually reassure DD that everything is OK and stay within arms reach so she has that added comfort from you.
  3. Oneplus2more

    Oneplus2more Well-Known Member

    If I remember right, didn't she get right up in your DDs face last time and tell her she was a bad girl and she ruined the get together? No wonder she doesn't want to see her again - would you? I think you need to tell the aunt and BF to completely leave DD alone - don't talk to her at all and no negative comments whatsoever that DD will overhear. I think too often adult treat small children like they should 'perform' to their expectations. I was very shy as a child, and DD1 used to be - but she's getting better. I've seen it time and time again, and know personally, the more someone tries to draw the shy/upset child out or comments on their quietness/not participating the more the child doesn't want to participate.

    And, how often do they see this aunt? If they go months at a time without seeing her, she is a stranger to them for all intents and purposes. Suggest to the aunt that she make the time to stop by for low-key, no pressure visits of 15 or 20 minutes. She can't ignore them for months at a time and expect them to be all warm and fuzzy when they see her. I know from other posts there is a stressful history with SIL & MIL...but you need to be an advocate for your daughter here. Most of all, don't do or say anything that implies DDs feelings are bad or wrong.

    edited to fix typos
    2 people like this.
  4. ckreh

    ckreh Well-Known Member

    Yes, that is exactly what happened the last time. DH and I were furious. We were not going to get together with them for awhile, then she had to put her sick dog to sleep, and she got the "sympathy" card from the entire family.

    I have often suggested a quick visit, but she is always too busy with BF, work, friends, etc. Then she tries to turn it around on us by saying we never invite her and that my family is always here. Well my family makes time to see the twins and enjoy seeing them. They go out of their way to come visit even if it only for 1/2 an hour.

    I think that is why I am so stumped, I feel terrible for DD because I have always been shy so I understand her emotions/fear, and then I feel bad for DH because his family treats me and his children like we are an inconvience which upsets him greatly. So here I am stuck in the middle not knowing how to make this work. What a wonderful birthday week and holiday season...yeah.
  5. mhardman

    mhardman Well-Known Member

    WIsh I had some advice, but not really. Hope you get through it.
  6. KStorey

    KStorey Well-Known Member

    Personally I would just quietly support your child. Talk through what is happening around them, make the event a story whispered in her ears. eg: Here we go to the dining room and I can see Aunty ____ and Daddy. They are doing _______. The behaviour of your SIL is disgraceful. A child is raised in a community and it is her responsibility to be the adult in this situation. I don't get to see my nephew very often because of distance and I really miss having a close connection with him. I always take a different book with me when I visit. I will wave hello then quiet sit down on the floor and read the story. If he is comfortable he will come and join me. If he's not then that's ok too. It is the adults job to make the child feel safe, not the childs job to make the adult feel good. Unless your SIL is willing to listen I would just support your daughter. Good luck and HAPPY BIRTHDAY :bday:
  7. AmynTony

    AmynTony Well-Known Member

    are they in any type of pre-school setting yet? The reason I ask is because both my twins were that way - they would burst into tears if someone so much as looked at them in a grocery store and at that point we put them in daycare a few days a week - it REALLY helped the socialization...

    as for your SIL she is a boor - pay no attention to her...
  8. ckreh

    ckreh Well-Known Member

    No, I have often wondered about that. My mom watches them a couple days a week and then my employer allows me to work from home the others. Day care around here is so high that it would cost almost my whole salary for them to go three days a week and we need my income to pay our bills. DH and my mom really wanted family care after DS had open-heart surgery and numberous allergies. They felt strangers wouldn't be as careful with his health issues.

    I have toyed with the idea of putting them in pre-school early. They have a 2-day a week 1/2 day program for 3 year olds and since DH is a teacher in the school district we get advanced placement in the program. Unfortunately I would have to wait until next fall because they have to be 3 years old or over and their birthday is in May. Maybe by that age DS will be able to tell others what he has to avoid food wise for his allergies.

    The funny thing is DD used to be scared of strangers and ok with family. Now DD is ok with most strangers, but terrified of SIL, her BF, and my Uncle's 2nd wife that she only sees 2 times a year that is loud, obnoxious and gets in all the kids faces.

    Thank you everyone for the support and letting me vent. I am definitely going to do my best to make DD comfortable and DH says he is going to pull his sister aside and put his foot down. Everyone is right, she is an adult and should act accordingly.
  9. AmynTony

    AmynTony Well-Known Member

    I completely understand the health issues with your son - perhaps a small home daycare would work - someone that only watches a few kids and can be more attentive...

    I feel for you - I really do...my uncle was that way (not with the disparaging comments but more with lavishing attention when DD just needed to warm up to him) and Tony finally yelled at him at a family party to leave her alone till she was ready...
  10. ckreh

    ckreh Well-Known Member

    Just had to update that DH had a talk with his mother tonight about this. She actually said to him "I just want us to have nice family get togethers and Lily's crying ruins that". DH told her they need to be more understanding and accomodating to DD until this phase passes or we won't be attending events anymore. I am so proud of DH for standing up to his mother because she always tries to control everything and if she doesn't like what he says she will say "I guess I don't have a son anymore" to make him feel guilty. I think that is why he is so nonconfrontational with them, but he has realized we (me & the twins) are his #1 concern and he will stand up for us 1st.
    1 person likes this.
  11. Oneplus2more

    Oneplus2more Well-Known Member

    I'm glad to hear this. I did have to chuckle a little, sorry - I know it's not funny when you're going through it - but an upset 2 yr old is a control freak's worst nightmare. You can not make an upset 2 yr old stop crying. Geesh, as a mother you would think she would know that, but we've had similar issues of unreasonable expectations here. Good Luck!! :grouphug:
  12. ckreh

    ckreh Well-Known Member

    Yes as a mother she should know better herself, but she is also a pediatric nurse :wacko: . That is what really makes DH mad because she has worked in the same pediatrian's office for 30 years and is the triage nurse. For that reason alone she should know better, but there is absolutely NO common sense or medical knowledge with her regarding our twins (her only grandchildren).

    Don't feel bad about wanting to laugh. When DH got off the phone and told me I shook my head and said "Really...Really". Laughter at their stupidity and lack of common sense is how I cope :rolleyes: .
  13. lianyla

    lianyla Well-Known Member

    You poor thing. Sounds to me like there is something going on under the surface here.. ??

    I mean, taking hard feelings out on a 2 year old?? Come on! Is that what it feels like to you, too? Or am I reading into things?? :)

    My kids are like this w/ DH's 2 uncle's. Always have been. Just a DISASTER whenever we see them. Finally i just told them to stay away from my boys cuz I was soo tired of it. That's just how I am tho. I wouldn't tolerate someone saying my baby was to blame for this and that. That is not okay and it just isn't true. These people are being mean!

    There isn't much you can do about this. Kids are EXTREMELY intuitive. I don't like my kids' uncles so it never surprised me that they were terrified. I didn't blame them LOL. We just avoided them. At the end of the day, I call a spade a spade.

    Good luck. I don't have any good advice except to say that you are NOT doing anything wrong here and neither is your daughter. :)
  14. Leighann

    Leighann Well-Known Member

    That is great that your DH spoke up! :clapping: I had to have a similar talk with my dad about his expectations.. he wanted the girls to run to him with big hugs and kisses whenever we see him and was pissed when that didn't happen. Really you are PISSED because a 2 year old (at the time) is acting like a 2 year old?! After the talk, its been better but I still have to remind him "they are 3 dad, cut them some slack."
  15. MNTwinSquared

    MNTwinSquared Well-Known Member

    My hubby has some expectations of the kids that *I* don't think is realistic. His parents get VERY upset if the kids don't run up to them and give lots of hugs/kisses. Ummm.. Clayton is ok with that, but Audrey is "shy" around any of his family, who we see more than my family but she isn't 'shy' around them. She's just NOT one to give kisses/hugs much. It's just HER PERSONALITY!!!
    That is great that your husband stood up for you. I don't know how they can 'realistically' expect a child to not cry around someone who has proven herself not friendly around the kids. I mean, who 'torments' a child and then expects the child to love them? :hug:
  16. ckreh

    ckreh Well-Known Member

    We found out today that MIL called my mom this week to speak with her about Lily's crying :woah: . My mom got upset, she is with the twins at least 3 days a week so she knows them just as well as we do, and raised her voice to MIL saying almost the same thing. "You are getting upset because she is being a typical 2 year old? If you want perfect get togethers you should stop inviting them (us and the kids) for the next 5-6 years. Life is not perfect and kids should be allowed to be kids." I can't believe the lengths my MIL is going to so someone will side with her and SIL and I am so thrilled that DH, myself, and my mom are fighting for my kids right to be themselves. MIL is definitely showing everyone she is slightly off, which I've always kind of known :wacko: . I tease DH that he must have gotten his "normal" from my late FIL.
  17. MLH

    MLH Well-Known Member

    What?!!? I'd just be calling her and telling her that you don't want to ruin her night, so your family will be spending YOUR birthday together and not coming over. Everytime I hear some of these IL stories, I am so appreciative of the ones I have. They have their moments, but all in all we get along well.
  18. AmynTony

    AmynTony Well-Known Member

    Kristin are you effing serious??? Your MIL called your mother??? I agree with Melissa - I'd be spending MY birthday with people that love me AND my kids and their personalities!

    The only time my MIL called my mom was to convince my mom she should talk me out of marrying Tony - needless to say they can no longer be in the same zip code!
  19. Oneplus2more

    Oneplus2more Well-Known Member

    :woah: Good for your mom! It's really sad that your MIL has such an issue with her own GC. I would seriously cancel the birthday dinner. I would take the kids to see the ILs for Christmas but I would keep it short. Obviously, none of you are enjoying these get togethers so i would keep them limited.
  20. Heathermomof5

    Heathermomof5 Well-Known Member

    If I were you I would not go - I would not want to ruin their night!
  21. TwinxesMom

    TwinxesMom Well-Known Member

    I think your daughter is getting very explainable bad vibes from auntie. Some kids are more aware of adults dislike/displeasure towards them.
  22. sullivanre

    sullivanre Well-Known Member

    This is probably going to make you angry, but is this the same SIL from this old thread. If it is, I can kind of understand where some of the problems are coming from; if not, then sorry to bring it up.
  23. Oneplus2more

    Oneplus2more Well-Known Member

    I remember that thread and I think it is the same SIL, but I think that is no excuse for the SIL and MIL reaction to an upset 2 yr old.

    If two other adults have an issue with me and/or DH that is fine, but if they start taking it out on my children then that changes everything. Regardless of how they got here, I think all of the adults need to take a step back and reevaluate why they would set up a dinner where apparently everyone present is going to be miserable.
  24. lianyla

    lianyla Well-Known Member

    The phone call would be the last straw. This woman knows no boundaries. I think it's time for a sit down chat. You need to draw some lines and FAST. I feel for you. I really do. How horrible. You are not alone tho. MANY many people, including myself have gone through this. Good luck and DO keep us posted. This situation with your daughter seems like a passive aggressive tactic. Ick!
  25. ckreh

    ckreh Well-Known Member

    Yes it is, but we came to terms with that situation and moved on. However, she has become more and more self absorbed and quirky. She feels the need to comment on everyone's life because she is an expert on everything now. For example I work too much or too little depending on her point of view during a conversation or we don't take the kids to the park enough even though it is 25 degrees outside. She complains she doesn't see the twins enough, but schedules all her free time with her friends to the point that she is only home maybe 2 evenings a month so DH has told her she will have to tell us when she is available. Needless to say that is about once every 3 months. I have distanced myself from her after she yelled at me for leaving a message on her answering machine that I didn't know had a broken message alert light, but DH speaks with her most because it is his sister.

    In this situation it has really been my MIL more because to her SIL has always been queen where DH is only her maintenance man even though she struggled for 5-years of infertility to have him. She wants everything to be perfect at each dinner or party; picture table linens, china, cystal, and meals planned out in six courses along with being expected to be there for at least 5-6 hours. She called yesterday to wish me happy birthday and said "You need to tell the twins to learn to behave so you can eat out in a nice restaurant as a family instead of going for Chinese food or family dining". I said, "Well they are 2-1/2 so they are acting their age and life will never be perfect". That ended the conversation pretty quick.
  26. AmynTony

    AmynTony Well-Known Member

    she has serious issues...as much of a b!tch as my MIL is and can be I don't think she'd ever say that!! Your MIL needs a serious crack up aside her head!
  27. MLH

    MLH Well-Known Member

    No kidding! I think I'd be distancing myself and my family from these people as much as possible. They don't need that!
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