The next moment your tot is just as likely to demand that ‘Mommy do it’. It’s not that your two-year-old is fickle or trying to play emotional ping-pong with you and your partner. At this stage your toddler can only think of being with one person at a time.
Your child is simply developing a sense of identity and figuring out where the most important people – parents – and everybody else fit in.
When you’re not the chosen one
Don’t make a big deal out of it. This is a temporary age-appropriate stage that your child will outgrow. It can sting when the child you’ve been with every day since birth suddenly only wants Daddy to read her stories or put on her shoes, but try not to show you feel hurt. That may only make it worse. Let your child know that it’s okay.
Enjoy that your toddler is having such a great time with your partner. Let them have their one-on-one time together. You can join in later.
Parents aren’t the same
Celebrate that each of you has a different personality that’s reflected in your style of parenting. Your child will have figured out by now that Daddy will roughhouse before bed, while you don’t approve; or that you put special bubbles in the tub that smell nice. Let your child enjoy the unique qualities of each parent without making the other change or feel guilty.
Mix up your routines
Surprise your one-year-old by having your partner feed her dinner instead of you, if you’re the primary caregiver. Alternate bedtime routines so your tot doesn’t become set in only doing things the same way every day with the same person. The benefit is that your child is less likely to be upset if you can’t always be there. It’s also an opportunity for the other parent to develop special routines that will help them bond, too.
Give your partner a chance
Let your child and the parent who isn’t the current favourite have some bonding time together without the other parent lurking in the background. It’s hard for the parent who travels or who just isn’t there as much to be as close as the main caregiver.
Enjoy activities that involve the whole family, including older siblings, like rolling a ball or singing a clapping game together.
Be in the moment
Focus on your toddler when you have one-on-one playtime together. That way the child can feel how important your connection is to each other. Turn off the TV and other distractions when you play.
If you feel jealous
Let your partner know how you feel so you can discuss how to handle it together. Also, if you’re the ‘flavour of the moment’ parent, don’t play it up and deliberately exclude the other person. It’s not ‘playing nice’ if one partner gloats! PC