How to handle a jealous toddler
Q. My 2-year-old gets jealous when my husband hugs or kisses me or holds my hand. She'll yell, "Don't touch my mommy!" How should we handle this?
A. Don't panic. Her reaction is developmentally appropriate, says Renee Clauselle, a child psychologist in private practice in Franklin Square. At about age 2, children become more aware of relationships, including Mom's relationships with others. "If they see someone else pulling that attention away, it could rub them the wrong way," Clauselle says.
This would be a great time to introduce a feelings chart to your daughter; Google "feelings chart" on the Web and print out one you like for free. Begin to use it in situations that aren't so heated, giving her words for happy and angry and sad. Then ask her to point to how she feels when Daddy kisses Mommy.
Feelings charts are beneficial for all children, to help them articulate confusing emotions, Clauselle says. "By beginning to put labels and words with feelings inside, you're helping them do what we tell them to do all the time -- use their words instead of acting out." Continue to explain to your daughter that Mommy and Daddy love her but also have a separate relationship, she says.
Consider also whether anything else is going on at home that could be influencing her feelings. For instance, if you are pregnant, she knows another child will be joining the family, and that may make her out of sorts when Mom shares any attention.