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Discussing child abuse with a toddler.

My friend has a 3 year old and recently there was domestic violence resulting in my friend being hit by her husband and the three year old being tossed against a book case which resulted in some bruising, a busted lip and the cops being called(with the DH being arrested). Well, my friend has been really worried about her husband picking her son up from daycare and taking him away from her. (She's contacted a lawyer and is trying to get sole custody) so I have been watching him for her for the past three weeks.

Sometimes he mentions being pushed against the wall by his dad or says things that his dad has said. Like today he goes, "I wish I was dead because I'm a failure." Things he's heard his dad repeat.

I guess my question is. How do I approach this? Do I ignore that he said it or try to talk to him about it?

I don't know what to do about the situation.

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 8:06 PM on Mar. 27, 2009 in Relationships

Answers (5)
  • I dont think you should ignore him, you dont want him to feel like he isnt being heard. I dont think at three he really understands what "i wish i was dead because i'm a failure" means, keep reassuring him and listening to what he has to say.

    Answer by Chandra034 at 8:09 PM on Mar. 27, 2009

  • Definately do not ignore it or the boy will think you are reaffirming his dad by not correcting what he (he boy) just said. What I would do is get down to his eye level and say something like "honey that is not true, and your Daddy was very wrong to say it." The give him a hug and tell him you think he is a very special boy. Hope this helps. Good luck, and I am sorry you are having to deal with such a difficult situation.

    Answer by jamesmommy12 at 8:11 PM on Mar. 27, 2009

  • I would ask his mom how she wants it addressed. If it was my child though I would just say something like "that makes me sad to hear you say that, you are not a failure you are a wonderful child and I love you". And when he talks about what happened I would just say "I know that was very scary and you are safe here." No one should tell him that he never has to see Dad again until it is court ordered because then he will just think that person lied to him.

    Answer by goaliemom93 at 8:14 PM on Mar. 27, 2009

  • I should clarify. His dad didn't say that to him, like going, "You're a failure, S----" but his dad goes, "I wish I was dead because I can't do anything right."

    We don't discuss the situation when he's around. When we do we say things like, "You know who called me last night" Though, he's three not an idiot. I'm sure he knows. I just give him a big hug and tell him I love him, but even his own mother doesn't know what to do. I think he needs to talk about it, and we just don't know how to go about it.

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:14 PM on Mar. 27, 2009

  • toddlers can't take a lot of abstract data. If he says it again (wishing he were dead) tell him you and his mommy would be sad if he were dead bc you'd never get to see him again. Kids don't understand that death is permanent so bring some reality that he can understand in. As for the abuse itself call a domestic violence hotline and ask the experts on how to handle it properly. Don't ignore it though. I would think you'd just treat it like any other incident where he would get hurt (fall down on his own, etc). I'd listen and give him a big hug to make the hurt go away and tell him how much you love him. Build up the positive bc he doesn't understand the negative.

    Answer by admckenzie at 8:39 PM on Mar. 27, 2009

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