Do you remember your favourite "love object" from your childhood? You hear stories of parents trying to widdle an old blankie down to a small square by having it progressively "shrink" in the dryer, but what if your child’s love object disappears by accident prematurely?
Have a look at the email I got from Jen describing her dilemma:
My daughter will turn 3 next month. She has a toy giraffe which she was extremely dependent on. Trouble is, he was dropped out of the stroller and is now lost. It has been 5 days and she is an absolute mess. I don’t know what to do. She is melting down a lot, temper tantrums, throwing things. She never exhibits this type of behaviour.
We are searching for another similar toy, but it’s hard to find. I’ve tried to coax her to talk about him, but she doesn’t want to discuss it. She has spoken about missing him, and wishing she could find him, etc… It is breaking my heart, and therefore I’m not clamping down on her behaviour. When should I expect that she will be back to normal? Any advice on how to deal with this situation? It is tearing me up inside!
Thanks so much.
Oh that is heart wrenching isn’t it?
You have to find that fine line between being empathetic for her real sense of loss – and not tolerating her using it as a excuse to behave badly.
We often see this with adults when they proclaim "I am just not a morning people". They walk around being grumpy (aka rude) to us. They expect others to accept their poor behaviour because they supposedly "aren’t morning people". Yet we know that if they weren’t with family, they would not act this way. They would be polite with the folks in the car pool, or to the neighbour.
So, you named it yourself: you are being lax and not dealing with her the same because of this loss. What might she be learning from this experience then? I suggest, you trust your instincts and get on with discipline as per usual and work to help her find a new "love object", even though nothing, and I mean nothing, will replace her beloved giraffe.
I hope that is helpful.
If you have had to deal with a lost object like this, share your stories and how you coped by using the comment field below.