Your little one’s brain is still developing, and building relationships takes a lot of brainpower! Sometimes they can only focus on one relationship at a time, and it may be a matter of ‘waiting your turn’. Your child will also learn from routines, so if one parent is responsible for the majority of the caring, this could influence the dynamic between the child and each parent.

When one parent spends more time caring for a child, the child may simply learn to expect more care and attention from this parent. Alternatively, if one parent is out of the house more, your little one may be extra excited to spend time with this parent.

Either way, your family may find it helpful to actively ‘share the care’ by being mindful about how you split responsibilities. Consider how you divide ‘fun’ activities, like story time or going to the park, with ‘have to do’ activities like brushing teeth or bath time to avoid associating one parent with ‘fun’ activities and one with more ‘boring’ tasks.

If your toddler refuses help from one parent, it’s okay to take control and be firm with your child about how something is going to be done. For example, if your little one kicks up a fuss because mum is putting on their shoes instead of dad, it’s okay for mum to explain that she will be putting shoes on for now, and the whole family will spend time together afterwards.

Do your best not to take the ‘rejection’ personally. It’s essential to show your little one unconditional love, especially in their early years rather than acting upset or making them feel guilty. Try to keep a sense of humour about you, and remember your little one doesn’t mean to push you away.

The stage of ‘preferring’ one parent over the other will, in most cases, pass with time. Children have unique relationships with each of their parents, and these are all equally as important. Even if you feel like you’re on the back burner at times, you and your little one love each other and your bond will grow as your child grows up!

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