32 answers

Favorite Parent Issues with 2 1/2 Yr Old Girl

So this may sound weird, but I am a little worried that my little girl is a mommy's girl. When she was little she preferred me to my husband, which I can understand. My problem is that she is not getting any better and she is now 2 1/2 yrs old. She is a very good natured little girl, loves people and doesn't act like this with anyone else. I have to coax her to give him a hug or kiss. She is very off-ish with him with almost anything. The only time she doesn't act this way is when I have gone out for a awhile and she stays home with Daddy, and even then she still has small issues. My husband is feeling very neglected and depressed about the whole situation. He is a very loving father and my soul mate. He is hardworking and can be a clown sometimes. My other worry is that with my second girl on the way, my first will be even more attached to me and problems will arise with the new baby. I keep reassuring my husband with the "its only a phase" line. But after two years+ I am beginning to wonder myself. Has anyone dealt with this before or any thoughts?

3 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for all your responses. It always feels good to have your instincts confirmed. We are working on having her go to daddy a lot more. I know it won't fix overnight, but its a start. Thanks again!!!

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We am raising a 9yr old and almost 5 yr old Granddaughters.
The 5 yr old is the same way with Grandpa. If you recieve good answers I need to read them too.

Sorry I'm in the same boat.

D. S

One thing that really helped my kids and husband bond is finding something that only they do together. It could be something really little. For my daughter it was mowing the lawn on the riding lawn mower with Daddy. As for my second child, when my son was born my daughter was just over 2 and she ended up switching completely from wanting Mommy all the time to wanting Daddy all the time. I spent so much time taking care of the baby, she learned if she went to Dad, she would get the attention she wanted. She is such a Daddy's girl now (at 3 1/2) that she usually picks him over me anymore.

It sounds like he needs to spend more one on one time with her. Have him take her to a park, or to lunch, or just anywhere with him more. It probably is just a phase, and it is normal for a child to be more attached to the parent that they are around more. My son is still very attached to me, he loves doing things with his daddy too, but he'd still rather have me.

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It is very typical for a child to prefer one parent over another, even up to three-four years old. It is also very hard on both parents. The one who is preferred because it is physically and emotionally draining to be the one to do everything, and the one who gets neglected because, well they feel neglected and can't do anything to help.
The key to this is patience. You are right in saying it is just a phase, it is just a really loooong phase. I have studied Child Development and also have personal experience in this area. So here is my advice... and I hope it helps you.

My second daughter (Ella) was like this, she is now 4 1/2 and when she is feeling insecure she still only wants me to do things for her. We have worked so hard on this, for the same reason you want to, my husband was feeling so left out.

The first thing that I did was make it REALLY exciting when Daddy came home form work. Lots of hugs from me and anticipation leading up to that point. "Daddy is coming home soon:)" "When Daddy comes home, lets give him a...." and find something that we could do for him.
We also spent time during the day making secret things for him, like pictures or cards or love notes, and would put them on his pillow. or make treats to give to him. Which in turn I asked him to make a big deal about! And do the same things for her.

He came up with a "running hug" (back up as far as she could and run run run and jump into his arms) because it was one way she would actually hug him. He would try to hug her or ask for a hug and she would decline, but if he said,"can you give me a running hug?" she would be running and hugging within seconds.

We started alternating who would put her to bed. This was really hard for her at first and was actually more helpful if I went shopping for bed time, on his nights. Every other night we would trade. And it got easier. He actually did a different more fun routine then I did, and now she likes him to put her to bed more then me!:) (most nights) But we still take turns because my 2 year old girl, sort of started the same thing after our recent move.

Another thing we do is daddy dates. They absolutely love this. I have a 6 year old daughter as well and we started this when she was about two to give me a break. She would just go run errands with him and he would make sure to do something fun like, stop by a park for ten min, or get a little treat or something. So now they take turns, I mark it on the calender whenever he takes one and then the next time it is the others turn. This has really helped the bonding and she loves to ride in his truck and spend time with him.

We have also done non-giving-in in situations where if I am busy, she can have Daddy do it or wait till I am done, (which I can always look busy even if I am not). These are hard at first with lots of tears, but once she realized that I wasn't going to help her, it got easier.

It is great for you to have a night out weekly. Like you stated, she likes him more when she spends time with him. So if you were to make it more frequent, it would only help them get closer and her trust him more.

It is a tough situation, But She will come though with lots of encouragement and support from you and unconditional love from him.

About your new baby,
Ella never had a huge problem with the baby. We talked so much about how excited we were and what a big helper she would be. And all the fun things she could do that the baby couldn't.
She loved our baby. And I referred to her as our's, so she wouldn't think she was just my baby or that she was getting replace. She never was mean, but she did still want me to spend time holding her.
When I would feed the baby, it was "reading time" for Ella, and when the baby took her first morning nap after I got ready, it was "Mommy time" for Ella. I would just state "its Esther's turn with mommy, when I am done it will be your turn" Then when I was done with our baby I would make sure that I would say "its Ella's turn", that way she would feel I still loved and wanted to snuggle her.
We also encourage her to tell me if she needed "mommy time" instead of crying and whining about it. It Helped her to recognize that she had feelings and if she was sad she could use her words to fix it. It also helped me not get so irritated with her neediness, or being angry with her crying (for no reason). When I heard those words, "I need Mommy time" I could finish what I was doing quickly and give her some of my time.
It will take a while to adjust, but I think if you stay positive, she will too.

Good luck,

By the way, I like your name:)

3 moms found this helpful

Hi E.,

Your post caught my eye, because I worried and worried about that same issue when my daughter was little (she is 4.5 now).

My husband also struggled with it, and there didn't seem to be too much I could say to him to help him feel better. He kept making it about him.

But what we both eventually learned about little people and attachment to parents, is that usually when children are under the age of 6, they attach strongly to one adult at a time. This means when you are in the vicinity, she will probably want you and not your husband. (A great read on attachment is Gordon Neufeld's Hold on To Your Kids).

The best way for your husband to attach to your daughter is for you to plan to spend some time out of the house and give them time/space to bond. Also for your husband to gently attempt to attach, by making eye contact, smiling etc. (Again check out Gordon's book).

Good luck. And remember it's normal and healthy for your daughter to attach to one parent (adult) at a time.


2 moms found this helpful

i'm very late in seeing this question but i thought i'd respond anyway. First off I see that you referred to your husband as your soul mate. Let me clarify that for you. WE have many soul mates as they are people with whom we've shared other lifetimes. Soul Mates are those souls who have agreed to enter into our lives for certain periods of time in order to assist us in surpassing, learning, or overcoming something from other lifetimes in order to advance our spirits. They come for aiding us in spiritual growth! WE also aid them and many others in achieving spiritual growth as well. AS for your daughters response to her father, this could be soul recognition. She could be recognizing or remembering something in him from another lifetime with him. The baby girl is young enough to have soul memories without the abitlity to express nor explain what she is feeling or seeing in those around her. As for your husband, they obviously shared a past life together. They are united now as father and daughter in order to grow and learn from their pasts. Eventually, your baby girl will forget the memories and experiences of her more recent past life. She will grow into her physical body, so to speak, losing all soul memory connected with her present day father. This will change their relationship and should bring it into a more "normal" father/daughter relationship.

In the meantime, pay attention to her behaviors when around her father. Listen closely to what she says to you. She may speak of invisible friends. She may behave with some fear or odd attraction to him as time goes by. Just pay attention and respond accordingly.

That's the best I can offer to you on this topic. Your husband must behave as a father of this child because he is the adult in the current situation. Never forget that! This go round, you are both the parents and she is the child. Guide her, talk with her, teach her about love. It's your job as parents. and you can reach me if you'd like to do so at ____@____.com just identify yourself as coming from MamaSource, please.

God be with you all,


2 moms found this helpful

My son has always preferred me over Daddy. At first I assumed it was because I was breatfeeding him. However, he is now 6-1/2 and still prefers me.

Like you, I was nervous when I was pregnant with my second child; I didn't want TWO clingers. My husband was always very involved, changing diapers, preparing meals, etc. However, I started encouraging more Daddy time. My husband is a better cook than I am, so I would encourage him to let my son stir, roll out cookies, etc. If my husband was running a quick errand I would suggest that Matthew ride along. (That also gave me some quiet time.)

When my daughter came along, we quickly discovered that despite my breastfeeding she preferred Daddy. When she needs a diaper, she wants Daddy to change her. When she is hurt, she wants Daddy to kiss it better. (Now I know how Daddy felt when my son was always wanting me. And he knows how I felt when I couldn't get a break from my clinger.)

We have started taking turns and dividing up more responsibilities. We each help one child get dressed. We take turns changing diapers. I help with homework. My hubby reads the bedtime story. (You get the picture.)

1 mom found this helpful

We take turns putting my daughter (3.5yrs) to bed and tell her that we want to take turns because we both want to be with her so much and both enjoy putting her to bed so much that its not fair that only Mommy gets to do it. She still prefers me, but enjoys telling her Papi that tomorrow night will be his turn and planning what they will read together. My husband and I are also very clear that whoever is taking care of any particular task follows through with that task regardless of who my daughter asks for -- so if Papi is helping her brush her teeth and she says "I want Mommy" She is told that it is Papi's turn and that Mommy will do something else for her -- and that Mommy and Papi decide, not her. I don't get to come in and take over because that lets her know that she is in control of that particular situation. We will indulge what she wants if one of us hasn't already started the task though... She still expresses a preference, but quickly adjusts and is happy to be with Papi when we are clear who is doing what. hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Kids have an amazing ability to sense when you are feeling or thinking about the baby in your belly. Because of this the dynamics of the family changes. This means that the lst born is no longer the center of the family unit. It helps to accept the changes and develope a bond with the 1st born that includes the new changes. The dad needs to stop thinking the lack of closeness is personal and be the parent and go forth and find a way to have one on one time with his daughter. Maybe he could take her to a ballet class and have a special snack with her afterwards or something like this. Maybe a favorite park or some mall for window shopping. It's about making her feel not out of the loop....

1 mom found this helpful

I am little late in seeing this but I wanted to respond because this hits home with me. I had a baby girl last September,Labor Day, and my first child, also a girl, was about 2 1/2 while I was pregnant and is now 3. She was Daddy's girl and always played with both of us and seemed to want us equally but was able to play rougher with him.

Before this baby I had in September I got pregnant the previous Sept. but lost the baby at almost 7 weeks on the day before Halloween. When I got pregnant again around Christmas time I was a nervous wreck the whole time and did not rough house or do anything strenuous. Towards the end I did not feel up to doing much at all as most of us don't and when I tried to lay on the couch and relax my 2 1/2 year old wanted to lay on me and climb on me and I just could not have it so she played with her Dad a lot. She has always been his little girl but even more so then.

She seemed good with the baby and has just recently shown signs of wanting more attention, not anger towards Abbey she loves her little sister, but you can tell she is vying for attention sometimes.

Well the beginning of this year Gracie (the 2 1/2yr old) got very sick with Hand, Foot and Mouth and refused to eat or drink much for a week and ended up in the hospital. She was in a lot of pain and all she wanted was me me me. My poor husband was just crying one night because he tried to hold her and comfort her and she just wanted me. His heart was broken. I was exhausted emotionally and physically as we were not getting sleep and my baby girl was suffering so much and yet she would not let anyone else comfort her, hold her or give her medicine, nothing.

Since then she is all about me. I can barely go to the bathroom without her coming in to see what I am doing. She is mean to her Dad at times and she won't listen to him at all. He just gets mad and gives up and that just makes it worse. She just started this Mommy I want you all the time now and even if I am just sitting there with her it is Mommy I want you and sometimes it is that whine ... oh that whine that just naws at your nerves.

I have tried to counsel my husband on ways to deal with her not listening. He tends to yell instead of getting up and making her do something or coming to her level and explaining things. Then he gives up so she knows she has him beat.

She tends to be mean to him partly too because he has always played and anotognised her in playing and now I think she is unsure of the difference when he is disciplining her. I am caught in the middle.

So this in turn leads her to not always want to hug and kiss him and let him hold her. I know this is a little different but along the same lines.

I thought it was the whole thing with her being sick and it made her gravitate to me because I was her source of comfort. But reading all these posts maybe it is her age and is it a phase and it just started with this sickness.

Sorry this is so long but I have been frustrated by all this for awhile now and this seem to somewhat relate and a good place to turn for venting and advice too.

Hope things got better for you and I will keep trying. I got some great ideas from here too.

My husband and I work full time and Grandma watches the girls so I have often thought she might just be missing me because of that. My husband works 6-2:30 and is home long before me. I work 8:30-5:30 so I get home later and have less time with them in the evening.

Anyone's thoughts are welcome.

Tricia M

I think it is very normal especialy with SAHM's we are there world 24 hours a day, it doesn't mean she doesn't love daddy but mommy is the one who is always there, it really is that simple. I would have daddy do a lot more things with her and mommy is going to have to leave her with him a lot more, have daddy do little tea parties and play dolls, he can take her to the park or zoo, make daddy the "good" guy, and this will become very important with a new baby on the way, get her baby dolls and help her practice for the new baby and talk about how our new baby is going to need more of mommy's attention and that daddy is going to have to help mommy out alot more, 2 1/2 year olds understand a lot more then we give them credit for, also daddy really needs to understand that it isn't personal she loves him but mommy is her security blanket, good luck!

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