Giggle Parenting For When Your Child Only Wants Daddy! (or mummy)


There are times when a child’s preference for one parent over the other suggests more about underlying feelings of upset they are experiencing than anything genuinely true about their relationship with that parent.

I’ve been having a few of those moments lately. My husband is a teacher, and since the long holiday has started my daughter has been spending more time with him and less with me as I embark on a new writing project. Last week I was a bit busy and preoccupied, so even when I was physically there, I wasn’t exactly present.

I could tell my daughter was feeling disconnected from me, because she kept saying that she wanted to play with daddy, or only daddy could play certain games with her. After a family day at the swimming pool we got on the train, and she said she wanted to sit with daddy. I sensed that this preference had something to do with those feelings of disconnection from me, so I decided to turn it into a fun game.

I started saying in an exaggerated dramatic voice, ”oh no! Don’t sit on the boys side, you are meant to be on the girls side.” Then I would playfully pull her onto my side. She would then escape, and laugh as I jokingly exclaimed how terrible it was that she was on the ‘boys’ side.’ I pulled her back and I also made a ‘door’ with my hands, to block her from going to the other side. I would put up a bit of resistance, and then let her win and escape. After fun and giggles together we were feeling much more connected.

If your child is experiencing strong feelings of preference for one parent over the other you might like to play a game like this. Perhaps have both parents sit on opposite sides of the living room. Then tell your child that you want them to stay on your side, and that you really hope that they don’t run over to the other side. Saying this in a playful tone will probably be just the invitation your child needs to run over to the other side, and you can then try and get them back. You can pull them gently in a playful way, so they get that it’s a game. It’s important not to physically overpower your child. The aim is for your child to ‘win,’ to be in the most powerful role, so always let them escape.

These sorts of games fill our child’s need for connection in all sorts of ways. By feeling their own strength and power, they get to release feelings of upset that get in the way of being closely connected to us. By laughing and playing, we get to deepen our bond.

It’s not always easy staying connected in our busy lives where we need to work, and spend time alone to meet our own needs as well, but the Hand in Hand Parenting tools are always there to heal those major and minor disconnections we all experience from time to time.

Need more help in dealing with disconnection with your child? Check out my article Healing Broken Connections. Sometimes separation anxiety can be behind your child’s preference for one parent over another. These playful ways to heal separation anxiety may  be helpful. Hand in Hand Parenting also has an online self study course, Helping Your Child WIth Separation Anxiety

Would you like a giggle parenting solution for your family challenge? Leave me a comment or contact me via facebook

A Mum Track Mind

7 thoughts on “Giggle Parenting For When Your Child Only Wants Daddy! (or mummy)

  1. Great post. I’ve known many parents that have gone through exactly this and it can cause so much hurt and frustration for the parent that is suddenly not “the chosen one”. These are some great tips on how to try and overcome this bump in the parenting road #fortheloveofBLOG

  2. Those are tough situations.
    I’m lucky that my husband comes home most days for lunch and doesn’t take too many business trips, otherwise this might happen here, too.
    Also my son is used to be with his grandparents and at daycare, so he’s pretty easy going, as long as somebody who’s nice is around.

    1. that’s nice that your son gets to see so much of his dad, and that he’s got a good bond with daycare and grandparents. I think it’s so healthy for kids to have close connections with lots of adults in their lives. I think it helps with venturing out there in the world that they know they can trust other adults, not just their parents.

  3. Yes, we have the same thing here: there are Mummy days and Daddy days. We have a little of the opposite though as if I am travelling or on a big project she will cling on to me tighter and tighter! I think one of the keys is to not take it personally as a parent as it can a source of real upset.

  4. This definitely happens at one point or another with all kids who are lucky enough to have both their parents present. It doesn’t get much better as they get to teens either as they just start playing one off against the other then! Laughter can lighten the mood though and this is a great post. Thanks for sharing on #fortheloveofBLOG

  5. I am the preferred parent probably 95% of the time. It’s always been that way, but was strengthened when my husband started traveling more for work (when we lived in the US) and is even more pronounced now that he works and I’m home with her.

    I think we’ll try this game, though. Maybe it’ll help my husband win her over a little bit more!

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