My toddler wants her daddy to die when she's mad at him

I told her that if daddy dies, we will never see him again. She started crying because I wouldn't make her daddy die.

Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
I tailor my therapeutic approach to each client's strengths and goals

Children often have a difficult time expressing emotions accurately. It is also very likely that your daughter does not understand  the permanence of death. Having said that, she is using some very specific ideas here and I would recommend contacting a local mental health professional with some experience working with children.

I would also wonder where she is getting this idea. Sometimes children hear things on TV or from an adult and we are not even aware of how much they are remembering.

It may be helpful to teach her things that she can do when she is angry, like say that she is mad because she cannot have the toy that she is asking for.

I'm curious as to how long it is that she stays mad like this and whether she talks to her dad after she is no longer angry. Does she say the same sorts of things about you?

It may also be helpful for you to work with a mental health professional (possibly the same one who is working with your daughter) so that you can have some support with this as well.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal, as if you want to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, or are in crisis, call 800-273-8255 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), call 911, or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Toddlers don't have the intellectual capacity to conceptualize.

Better to find out why she wants daddy to die than explain the future consequences of death to your toddler.

A person must be around 9, possibly 8 years old before absorbing the potential effects of an action taken in present time.

Pretty much your toddler demonstrated to you here age appropriate and limited understanding of the loss of a parent, by crying that you weren't able to magically make her father disappear.

Also, please pay attention and form your own opinions as to the reasons why your toddler would wish her father's death.

She may be pointing out that the father behaves in frightening or harmful ways towards her.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Karen Thacker
Karen Thacker
Relationship Specialist

It's normal for a child to be so angry she wanted someone to die, but this seems to be heading into a dangerous realm. I think it would be wise to have her seen by a child psychologist just to rule out anything more serious.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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