My toddler seems more attached to his mother than he is to me, his father. What can I do to get closer to him?
The Mommy Do It Test is a very crucial phase in your relationship with your child. Of course, it hurts and makes you angry that it seems like he doesn't want to be with you. But it is not about you; it is about his feelings and his strong connection to his mother.
There are three major steps you can take to help your child connect with you as well:
1. Spend one-on-one time with him. The time you spend with your child with other people is not nearly as powerful or intense for him as when it is just you and him. Taking the role of primary caretaker some of the time helps him to see that you care for him and can meet his needs. He needs to learn that daddy can also be there for himjust like mommy. In addition to caring for his physical needs, do fun things with himteach him new things, make him laughso he can relax with you. You want him to associate good experiences and good feelings with you.
2. Put your child to sleep. By putting your child to bed, he will learn that you are there for him when he is scared and feeling vulnerable. Also, this is wonderful alone time with your child, when you can read and cuddle together. If putting your child to bed is something your partner is hesitant to give up, propose a short-term arrangement where you handle most of the nights for a couple of months just to establish that connection with your child. Who knows? Your partner might enjoy the break.
3. Get support from your partner. When your child cries out for mommy while you are holding him, or wants mommy to do it, it will make a big difference if your partner consistently tells him, "Daddy can do it just as well as Mommy."
Whenever possible, don't stop trying to strengthen your bond with your child. He needs to know that you are no fair-weather dad. If you calmly care for him despite his protests, he will learn that you are for real and that you are serious about meeting his needs. Don't give up on himor on yourself.