son only wants me and not mum
Hi, any advice is welcome.
my wife is a wonderful mum, really supportive, does absolutely everything for our boys. our youngest is 3.5 years and can be so mean to her.
my son has just woken up and shouted for me, my wife and I have decided to split the nights as he tends to wake a few times every night and I've Literally just listened to him on the baby monitor tell her he does want her, telling her to get out, kicking her saying he just wants me. it's absolutely heartbreaking because she does so much for us all. this happens on a regular basis.
I tell him how mean those words are but it makes no difference.
when I'm at work and they are together during the day he's fine but the minute I get home that's it- he changes.
I feel so bad for her when he says these things because she is a really thoughtful wonderful mum to both our boys.
Thank you for your post and for sharing what must be upsetting for you both. I would like to encourage you and say that it is great to read how supportive you are of your wife and that you appreciate all that she does for your children and you all as a family. You are clearly working as a team, and are there for each other.
With regards to your little boy, again I would encourage you both and say that in my experience, this period of upsetting behaviour will not last. An example for you - my daughter when she was your sons age would not go near my Mum, or have hardly any cuddles or do an activity with her. Now she and my Mum have formed a close relationship. Sometimes there are no explanations as to why one child prefers one parent over another. It maybe because he sees less of you and more of his Mum, if she is the main care giver. Your wife will have to be the one to issue boundaries and discipline when you are not there, which your son may not want to do, or it could simply be he prefers male company and thinks his Dad is super cool!
Seriously though, it is difficult to reason and explain to a child of that age, what words are mean as their understanding will be limited. So here are a few practical suggestions to try together as a couple with your son:-
1. Praise your son each time he shows affection, or says thank you or does something fun and enjoys it, with his Mum. This will reinforce positive behaviour and encourage him that showing kindness to everyone is good.
2. For you to show your appreciation in a visible way to your wife and get your children involved in this. For example, you could go out and choose a bunch of flowers together and then ask the children to each draw a little picture to go along with it.
3. Talk about emotions and feelings, but in a visual way. So, simple pieces of blank paper with a happy face and one with a sad face - ask your son - do you think Mummy is happy or sad when you push her away, scream and cry etc. Talk about how special Mummy is and how she loves you all and all the things she does.
4. If you witness negative behaviour - e.g. your son throwing a toy at your wife, then you both need to decide what the consequence will be. He is old enough to know that he has done wrong, so it could be time out for him to calm down and then an apology and a hug for mummy.
5. The most important thing in these is consistency - so if you put consequences in place then they must be carried out.
6. Think of a fun new activity that your wife could do with just your youngest, Or 1-1 time, where given a limited choice of no-cost activities your son and your wife spend 20 mins of child-led play together. This in time will help increase the bond between them.
I hope these ideas help, but I would urge you not to worry, as upsetting as it can be, the very fact that he is ok during the day with your wife is encouraging in itself. So keep going, one day at a time.
Wishing you all the best,
Kind Regards, Parent Support Volunteer.