Playing Favorites

There is something about coming home to a house with your toddler waiting for you. As soon as you walk in the door, seeing the smile, hearing the greeting, feeling the hug, slobbered with a kiss. That is, until your toddler could care less that you have come home.

Recently, my toddler son has started to favor his “daddy”.

As soon as I pick him up from his crib in the morning, he questions me, “Daddy?”

As soon as he gets home from the babysitter, I hold my hands out to give him a hug, but he only braces “Daddy!” harder.

When he is hurt or upset, he pleads for “Daddy!” to comfort him.

Everytime he rejects me, me ego is damaged, my heart breaks, and I want to run to my room and cry. Only after taking a deep breath and remembering normal toddler behavior do I recover. So, if you are a parent of a toddler, are going to be a parent of a toddler, or plan on being a parent of a toddler, be prepared!

This is a normal, healthy milestone in your toddler’s development.

Your toddler is learning to be independent and this is just another way she is showing it. Suddenly, she wants to do everything for herself. She wants to make her own decisions. She wants to feed herself (and she doesn’t care about the mess). She decides that she doesn’t want her shoes on at the worst times possible. She starts to throw tantrums. And, a lot of times, she starts to favor one parent over another.

Wait your toddler out!

Have you ever noticed how your toddler changes his preferences almost on a daily basis? One day the ball is his favorite toy, the next day he wants nothing to do it. One day, turkey is his favorite food, the next day he is throwing it on the ground as soon as it touches the plate. Today, your toddler favors your partner over you. Tomorrow, you may suddenly become the preferred! What seems so fickle is just your toddler being normal.

Stay involved and active with your toddler

Even as your toddler is fighting your advances to care for her, to play with her, to change her, to bathe her, etc., you must keep doing it. This enables your toddler to show her affection to you in whatever way she wants. Plus, when the preference changes, she will know that you will be there. As I once read, your special time is coming!

Never show your feelings!

No matter how much it hurts me that my son prefers my husband over me, he must never know that it hurts me. My feelings are natural and expected. But, while my love for him is unconditional, I must remember that his love for me is a developing, growing, deepening emotion that must be nurtured in every way possible. He must know that I will be there no matter what. I will continue to pick him up from his crib in the morning with a big smile; I will continue to get on the floor and wrestle with him; I will continue to enjoy meal time with him. In the end, I will continue to love him no matter what. His love with me will develop into a separate, yet, no less special, creature than his love for my husband. Why? Because we offer him different things. And that is okay.

Have any of you experienced this with your toddler? How did you handle it? Any tips for new parents?

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