It’s frustrating for one parent and upsetting for the other!
When you are dealing with a toddler who only wants mommy, everyone suffers.
It also makes it difficult to maintain a bond.
Let’s fix it right here! I’ve got some advice for mom and some advice for dad.
Read on, because raising a toddler doesn’t have to be this difficult.
Things to do when the toddler prefers one parent
It is widespread for toddlers to prefer one parent over another initially.
Usually, this is their mom who feeds them and nurtures them the majority of the time. Plus, if you have all the qualities of a good mom, your toddler will naturally gravitate to you!
They feel their mother is the one that provides them with comfort and safety. Until the age of two, babies think of themselves as their mommy’s extensions. After that, they start to develop emotional independence and begin to explore the world more.
Then, they will start to see the other parent with different eyes, and things will settle down eventually.
Having said that, it could develop into being overly attached to mom, and that’s difficult to correct!
Why does a child prefer one parent?
It can be frustrating for the mom or dad when their baby prefers the other parent. The important thing for you to know is that this is not uncommon, so you should accept it as it is.
There are many reasons why babies prefer one parent. It might be due to a change of specific roles or some life transitions – moving into a new house or apartment, a new job, vacation, separation, or something else.
During these transitional periods, parents may shift their duties and switch roles about who makes breakfast, makes the bed, or picks them up from somewhere. That affects the babies, so they start to prefer one parent.
Another reason for more significant preference comes in times when mommy gives birth to a sibling. Then, the father spends more time with the older child while the mother takes proper care of the infant.
Finally, toddlers only want mommy because mommy tells better stories, or toddlers want daddy because they give them better baths.
No matter the reason, being rejected by your toddler can hurt.
Fortunately, this is just a phase, and there are some helpful things to go through this challenging stage more quickly.
Advice for the “non-preferred” parent
- Do not get angry. Start managing your feelings better. Know that it is OK to have mixed feelings and to feel frustrated when your kid pushes you away. It is also good to tell your child about your feelings. Let them know it makes you sad when they move you away. However, keep your angry thoughts, frustrating feelings, or tears to yourself or share them with another parent instead of letting your child see you like that. Don’t take it personally!
- Give yourself a positive talk. It is easy to start doubting yourself when your child prefers the other parent. Do not go there with thoughts, but remind yourself that this is only a phase that will pass eventually. Remember that your child will always need you. If you cannot shake off those negative feelings, talking with a parenting coach might help you.
- Try to build a stronger connection with your child. Work on your bond by spending quality time with them every day. Do some toddler activities together, or create something unique that only you two will enjoy. Building a bond is easy… just spend time with your son or daughter.
- Empathize with the feelings of your child. Sometimes mommy or daddy will not be there to come when the child needs them. In such a moment, empathize with their emotions and feelings, and say something decisive. For example, you can tell them – “I know you wish your mommy was here to help you, but she is at work now, and daddy will get you dressed.”
- Think about things that the other parent does that can help you. Sometimes the “preferred parent” does something that your baby or little child really likes. For example, mommy may sing some lovely song during bath time which makes your child feel comfortable. Or she may play an excellent game that entertains them a lot. See which things make them happy and incorporate something that can help you.
Advice for the “preferred” parent
Being a preferred parent does not feel comfortable too.
That is because the preferred parent may feel torn between their child and their husband or wife. It can also lead to feelings of despair and helplessness.
So if you want to help your spouse, this is what you can do.
- Support your husband. It is easy to jump to the rescue when your child screams for you. Instead of immediately coming to see what they scream about, encourage your child’s dependence on your husband. You can go somewhere close near them, respond calmly, and remind your child that the other parent is here to help them with whatever they need.
- Talk with your child about your family. When you two are alone, tell your child what makes you as a parent unique. What makes mommy good, and what are daddy’s strengths. Point out things that you both do good for them. Or you can play a game and encourage your child to tell what they love the most about both parents.
- Be aware of your husband’s feelings. Keep in mind that your spouse may feel frustrated that he is not loved in the same ways as your child loves you. Sometimes, spouses may feel very hurt or jealous. That is when you need to encourage your spouse to spend more time with your child and enjoy some activities together.
As they grow and mature, children will always go through different phases in their lives. With time, they will understand that both parents are there for them and that it is possible to love both parents differently.
Until that time comes, keep your calm and be the best parent you can be. Remember to help each other in times of need, and never let your child see you angry or frustrated because they want their mommy more at the moment.
As children grow, their parents also develop and improve their mental and emotional stability. There is a good solution for everything, including dealing with your toddler when they prefer the other parent.
These were some helpful advice for you to keep in mind and implement when needed. Try some of the mentioned things here and watch your child grow into a healthy, happy, and loved person.
Remember, your toddler loves you both.