Your 35-month-old: Preferring one parent

Your 35-month-old: Preferring one parent

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Your 2-year-old now

Try not to take it personally if your preschooler has begun preferring one parent over another (and you're the odd one out). She might decide one day that only your partner can read the bedtime story, not you.

Habit is sometimes the reason: If you drive to the babysitter every day, there's a fuss when your partner does it. More obviously, a parent who's been away on a trip might be shunned. It's your child's way of saying, "I really, really missed you and didn't like it ... I'm afraid you'll do it again."

Know that these whims are temporary. If you're the one on the outs, don't take it personally. If you're on the ins, specify some activities that are done with the other parent so that you'll get an occasional break. Continue about your usual routines with your child and things will fall back to normal.

Whatever you do, don't try to win back your child's affection with special toys or relaxed rules. You'll only set a bad precedent and reward her behavior. Besides, the one thing she really wants (even when she's acting like she doesn't) is you.

Your life now

Feeling bored during your child's tea parties, block-building, or attempts to play Candyland? Of course you do sometimes. Playing with a preschooler can be tedious business for grown-ups. They're notoriously bossy, impetuous, and into doing the same thing again and again.

Don't feel bad about encouraging your child to play alone sometimes; it builds her independence. Also look for alternatives you can do together without losing your sanity, like cooking or gardening, playing outside, or taking a walk. Or let your child imitate your activities while you work, for example, at her own "desk" or play kitchen.

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