For toddlers, having a favourite parent is quite common.  But you don’t want your toddler to insist only one parent can care for them.
So if your toddler insists ‘Mummy do it’ or Daddy do it’ firstly explain to your toddler that you both have to take turns. Say that if only one parent is around, then that parent does things for them.
But just like them, parents need to share. So if both parents are around, you’ll both need to take turns. You can still recognise that they’d rather one parent did it.

  • ‘You really wanted Mummy to give you your milk.’
  • ‘It looks like you’d rather Daddy was reading your story. And whose turn is it tonight?’ Ask them lots of questions about the new rule.
  • What does it mean?
  • Who will do it next?
  • How might you feel if Daddy straps you in the car?
  • How can you deal with that?
  • So whose turn is it next?’

And you need to make sure that you do alternate. And ignore any protests, no matter how hard it is initially. They’re not rejecting you – they just like to flex their little muscles and try to control what happens to them. They’ll soon get used to the new rule.

Secondly, comment every time your toddler lets the other parent care for them.
‘You’re getting really good at letting me put you to bed!
You’re really helping us to share and take turns.’
‘You let me give you a bath –even though you knew Daddy was downstairs. That was very grown-up.’
Say it with a smile on your face –and maybe give them a hug so they know how much their efforts are appreciated.

Finally, Make sure your toddler has one-to-one quality time with the parent who’s out of favour. Often toddlers feel a bit distant from one parent. So carve some time out for the parent who is being shunned to have some close, happy one to one time with your toddler. Doing something they love.
Make sure that it’s fun and engaging. And it may be best if the other parent makes themselves scarce- or even goes out-, so your toddler doesn’t feel there’s a choice.
Some good quality play and fun should help your toddler feel loved and close to both of you – and that good relationship will help your toddler to learn that both parents can do things and care for them.

So if your toddler insists one parent does things for them, three things you can do are:

  1. Explain to your toddler that you both have to take turns.
  2. Praise your toddler when they let the other parent do something.
  3. And make sure they have one to one quality time with the parent who’s ‘out of favour.’

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child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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