Why Do Toddlers Act Out More With Mom Than Dad?

Toddlers. They can astound us and frustrate us all within the same breath, right? Sometimes, their behavior leaves a lot to be desired, especially if their behavior is different depending on which parent is in charge. Why do toddlers act out more with mom than dad? In this post, we will provide an answer to that question and give you 5 things you can do to improve it!

After all, we need to preserve mom’s sanity. And you don’t want your toddler preferring dad over mom… it should be equal!

What you will learn:

  • Why your toddler acts out more with mum
  • What you can do to improve it!

Why Do Toddlers Act Out More With Mom Than Dad

5 Reasons Why Toddlers Act Out More With Mom Than Dad

More Comfortable With Mom

Ok, I am not generalizing here, but it is a fact that moms spend the most time with a toddler. It first started when your baby was born.

Yes, there are definitely exceptions to this rule!

As toddlers are likely to spend more time with mom, they are much more comfortable around her. That means they are more likely to express their emotions without embarrassment.

I guess that is kind of a good thing, mom, right?

See also  How To Get A Toddler To Stop Screaming

Mom Is With The Toddler The Most

Ok, it might sound the same as above, but it isn’t. Trust me.

When a toddler spends more time with one person, it might seem like they are acting up more, but it might be because mom has her toddler more, which means there is much more time for a toddler to act.

Sometimes in life, we only remember the bad things. If a toddler spends 10 hours a day with mom, and 4 hours with dad, there is so much more time for a toddler to act up more with mom than dad.

It is also worth considering that your toddler only gets to spend a few hours every day with dad, so they may not want to ruin it by acting up.

Feels Safe

Your toddler might feel safer with mom, which means they do not have any issues acting up in mom’s company.

Sometimes, we dads can be a little bit intimidating… what with our deep voices, etc. Toddlers may feel safe enough with mom to act up.


Your toddler may be getting frustrated. We are humans, not robots. That means we make mistakes, and sometimes we do not communicate well. This is especially true when communicating with a toddler!

Mom may frustrate your toddler. It could be something simple like mom doesn’t give in to demands, which frustrated poor old toddler into acting up.

Attention Seeking

Being a mom is tough! If mom has a job, then she has a difficult balancing act to do. Even if mom does not have a job, there are still plenty of other things they need to do.

When these other jobs are being completed, your toddler just doesn’t get the attention they constantly demand!

This is slightly different from a working dad. When dad is home, he gets to spend uninterrupted time with your toddler.

This may result in your toddler acting out more with mom because they want more attention.

Why do toddlers act up more for mom than dad

5 Ways You Can Stop Your Toddler Acting Out With Mom

5 Ways You Can Stop Your Toddler Acting Out With Mom Infographic

Let Them Release

The first thing you should do is to make sure they have a good way of releasing any energy or tension, especially if they have been in kindergarten all day.

See also  5 Tips To Help Your Toddler Fall Asleep Fast

This may involve taking your toddler out for a walk or to the local park to burn some toddler energy off.

Basically, you should make them too tired to act up! Having said that, toddlers act up when they are tired…

Either way, less energy means less acting up for mom. Plus you get to give them a ton of attention, which also works.

Hand Them Over

During times when both parents are available, you should work together to spend time with your toddler.

If dad is around this weekend, suggest that your toddler spends the day with dad. During this time, you should watch how they interact to see if you get any clues as to why your toddler acts up for mom more than dad.

Check Your Own Behavior (Consistency)

Are you tougher or more easygoing?

Do you give in to constant demands? Do you think your toddler respects the way that you parent them?

Mom could unknowingly frustrate or annoy your toddler. This is unlikely to be the fault of mom, by the way! This is most likely to be caused by your toddler’s struggle to communicate effectively.

Either way, it is worse checking to see if mom can improve to reduce when your toddler acts out. Always be consistent when communicating with a toddler! This is a message for mom and dad.

Check Your Partners Behavior (More Lenient?)

Why do toddlers act out more with mom than dad? It could be because dad is more of a pushover or confusingly, less of a pushover!

It would help if you spent some time watching the way your partner and toddler interact.

Parents should act as a team when raising a child. If one parent is much more lenient or gives in too easily, then your toddler will begin to prefer one parent over the other.

If dad is more lenient and gives in more easily, your toddler will prefer him. However, if he is much more strict, your toddler may respect him more, so they do not act up!

Your job is to figure out any behavioral changes in the way you both parent to stop this.

Talk To Them – Reward Them

This is the magic bullet when it comes to toddler discipline!

See also  7 Vital Parenting Tips For Raising Preschoolers

Rewarding your toddler is key to successfully raising a well-behaved child!

If your toddler goes 1 hour without acting out, give them praise. Then expand it to mornings and afternoons. Finally, you should give praise if your toddler goes a whole day without acting out for mom!

Start a reward chart where they get a star or a smiley face each time they are praised. Kids love praise and rewards. Use it to your advantage.

Frequently Asked Questions

frequently asked questions

Why are toddlers worse for their parents?

Toddlers tend to act up more for their parents because that is who they are most comfortable with. It may also FEEL like they are acting up more because that is who they spend most of their time with.

Why does a child prefer one parent over the other?

For a number of different reasons. Your toddler may feel more comfortable with one more than the other, or the other parent may just be easier for your toddler to manipulate!

Why does toddler cry when mom comes home?

This is mostly because your toddler is full of emotion that mom has returned home. A bond between mom and toddler is usually very very strong. When mom is not around, your toddler is likely to miss her very much! When mom returns, your toddler’s emotions bubble over and they may end up crying.


Why do toddlers act up more for mom than dad? It is difficult to answer, but on this page, I have given you 5 reasons, plus 5 things that you can do to improve it for poor mom.

Ultimately, you need to work together as a team to fix this before it gets too out of hand!

Communication is key! I mentioned a few times in this post that the way your toddler is dealt with may frustrate and anger them. It is worth considering a change in your behavior before you can expect your toddler to fall in line.

Good luck!


About ME

Let’s start with the obvious, I’m a dad.

I have 2 kids. One was dragged out from the comfort of his Mother’s womb kicking and screaming, and the other was a little easier.

Dad Gold was created to give tips that I wish someone had given me!

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