It can be heartbreaking when your preschooler pushes you away, but it’s actually got very little to do with you, and a lot to do with your child’s wildly fluctuating emotions.
 
Because your child’s moods can change rapidly and without warning at this age, it’s best to be prepared for it to happen, and to exercise patience when it does.
There are many reasons why your child may suddenly, and seemingly without warning, reject your affections (or demand them!) These can include:
 
Recovering from a tantrum. Your child may have had a tantrum, which you correctly responded to by giving him or her a timeout. He or she may be angry or hurt about the punishment, or may just be tired from the emotional and physical exertion of the tantrum itself. Either way, it’s best to accept that it may take your child a little while to get over it, and that he or she will when ready.
 
Having a bad day. It’s not only adults who have bad days! Your child may have fallen out with a friend, or other children teased him or her. Either way, it’s natural that your child might not want your affection. Give your child space, if that’s what he or she wants, but let your child know that you’re there – for talking, hugs or anything else he or she may need.
 
Your child may also be upset with you, and be unable to explain the emotion to you. One of the most difficult things about being a preschooler is having feelings, but not having the language skills to express them yet. If your child is upset or disappointed with you for some reason, he or she may reject your affections for a while. Ask a few questions if you suspect this is the case, then apologise, and tell your child that you have some time to spend just with him or her if your child wants to.
 
Your child may not enjoy physical contact as much as you do. It’s strange, but there are some children who aren’t as fond of touchy feely moments as others. Let your child be the leader when it comes to physical affection, but show affection in other ways.
 
Another possible reason is that your child is not feeling well. We all know how it feels to be ill, and having someone hug or hold you is sometimes the last thing you want. If you’re especially worried about it, speak to your doctor or paediatrician.
Sometimes children also reject only one parent at a time. This is normal, with children fluctuating between one caregiver and another. Rather than examining your child’s behaviour, in this case, look at yours and your partners. Is there something you could be doing different?
 
Last, but not least, there’s the possibility that your child could be combining this rejection with an act of anger or aggression, like hitting or throwing. In this case, you need to explain to your child that while emotions are okay, hitting / biting / throwing is not okay. Set a consequence for the behaviour, and if it continues, follow through.
 
Children this age are very emotional, so it’s to be expected that your child will reject your emotions from time to time. Don’t get upset about it. Rather work out the cause, and respond appropriately.

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