In this counseling answer:
“As her grandparent, she knows that you love her unconditionally and therefore you become the easy target for her aggression, which may well be a projection of the anger and frustration she is feeling towards the situation of her parent’s divorce. Whilst her abuse towards you is unacceptable, understanding her own perspective on the situation might help you to talk to her and approach her and the scenario from an angle that keeps this in mind.”
As-salamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,
In this case, there are a number of different things that need to be considered here. It is difficult when you want to do the very best you can for a loved one yet they show no love back and are in fact abusive back. In this case, it is your granddaughter and as a child, she may have a more limited capacity to understand the implications of what she is doing, yet at the same time, it is very painful for you.
Firstly, she does need to understand that even at this young age abuse of any kind is not ok, both physical and verbal. If you continue to allow her to do this without reprimanding her for such behavior she will continue to think what she is doing is acceptable and will continue her behavior towards you, as well as potentially extended this behavior towards others also. Get down to her level and explain to her that her behavior is not ok and it may be that she requires some time out for a few minutes at this point, or withdrawing a favorite toy for a short time to let her know this.
Continue to let her know that you love her despite what she says and that giving her time out or taking toys away is not because you don’t live here, but because her behavior was not good. Continue to be gentle with her during this time, being a good role model for managing your own frustrations that she may learn from you how to manage her feelings also. What you can also do is given that this abuse always seems to happen at set times is to set the boundaries before the event occurs.
So, before you leave home to make sure to remind her that hitting and saying bad words is not ok and instead keep her distracted with fun things, perhaps games like i-spy, to keep her mind free from the desire to hit out or say bad words. If it is that she begins with bad words, then you can begin with ignoring these words and not giving her the attention that she might be looking for.
Responding in a neutral way will let her know that you are not affected by her words and in sha Allah she will cease as she doesn’t get the desired response and she will also learn how to deal with such herself. If things take the next step up with her, then you can do as was discussed before regarding giving her time out..etc..
What you also need to understand is that even though it is her parents that are divorced she will be suffering from the consequences as much as they are. The difference is, as a 4-year-old child she does not yet have the skills to be able to manage her emotions in the same way that adults do. As her
As her grandparent, she knows that you love her unconditionally and therefore you become the easy target for her aggression, which may well be a projection of the anger and frustration she is feeling towards the situation of her parent’s divorce. Whilst her abuse towards you is unacceptable, understanding her own perspective on the situation might help you to talk to her and approach her and the scenario from an angle that keeps this in mind.
If your relationship is ok with the mother you might also consider bringing it up with her also so that she might talk to her daughter and also tell her that her abusive behavior towards you is not ok. It may be that she is more responsive to her mother and may also feel more inclined to quit such behavior if she knows that her mother is also disappointed with her behavior too and that you have her support. Let her see that you and her mother are united. Again, seeing friendly relations between the 2 sides of the family might ease the burden of divorce for her also.
In sha Allah in time as she gets used to the arrangement and develops more helpful coping mechanisms, things will go back to the way they were and you develop a much better relationship, free from the abuse.
May Allah ease the difficulties faced by all family members during this difficult time of divorce. May He give you the strength to overcome the difficulties and transition smoothly to the new family structure that you will be all happy and comfortable with.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.