“My 6-year-old daughter has been acting withdrawn in front of my brother”

Query: I am very close to my brother and I love him very dearly. But of late I have been noticing that my 6-year-old daughter has been acting withdrawn in front of him. I don’t know what has happened suddenly and I have tried asking but she gets so hyper and disturbed that I don’t want to push her. I am very scared. I have heard predators are mostly known to the family. Maybe I am overthinking but how can my daughter who loved her mama so much act so scared and withdrawn. And my brother makes no effort to make her feel comfortable too.

Response by Dr Chandni Tugnait: Hi, thank you for writing to us. It is understandable how unnerving this situation may be for you.

It is possible that the child is feeling unsafe or uncomfortable around the uncle for some reason. It could be that the uncle has been inappropriate or made advances towards the child, which has made her fearful. Alternatively, it could be that the uncle is simply too overwhelming for the child and she feels overwhelmed or intimidated by him. In either case, it is important to talk to the child about her feelings and try to get to the root of the problem. You can ask her if there is anything specific that she is worried about, and try to reassure her that she is safe. If the child is not opening up to you, see if there’s someone else in the family who the child is more comfortable in communicating with, say her father. You could even seek professional help in this regard because often children attach guilt or shame to some situations or feel threatened to share with their parents.

It’s important to hold a safe space full of compassion for the child to ease her before she confides in someone.

There could be a number of reasons why your daughter has been acting withdrawn in front of your brother. One possibility is that she is scared of him for some reason. This could be due to something he has said or done, or it could be because she has seen him behave aggressively towards other people. If your brother makes no effort to make her feel comfortable, then she may start to view him as a threat.

Another possibility is that your daughter is uncomfortable with the physical closeness between you & your brother. This could be due to feelings of jealousy or envy, or it could be because she is not ready to see her parents being so close to someone else.

It’s also important to encourage your brother to make an effort to connect with your daughter and make her feel comfortable around him. If he can create a positive relationship with her, it will help her feel safer and more secure.

Lastly, I would recommend that if you/your daughter are unable to process the thoughts, emotions, and the restlessness around the situation, do consider seeking therapy. Don’t shy away from asking for help. I hope this helps!

Dr. Chandni Tugnait is M.D. (Alternative Medicines), Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Business Coach, NLP Expert, Healer, Founder & Director – Gateway of Healing, with centres in Gurgaon and Faridabad.

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