It’s upsetting to watch your baby reach out to the maid, especially when you come home from work.
You want him to like the maid because they spend so much time together during the week – but the sight of your baby “choosing” to go to her instead of you bruises you emotionally.
Don’t worry, however. This does not mean he loves the maid more than you, or that you are a bad parent; nor does it mean that you and your child are drifting apart.
So what's going on?
What you see is simply your child’s natural reaction towards someone in whose company he has just spent several hours.
If you are concerned that your toddler regularly reaches out to the maid rather than to you, do something to change this.
But first, remind yourself that the connection between him and the maid is good for his growth. He benefits from having another loving adult in his life - every relationship adds to his emotional growth. Plus, you certainly wouldn’t want him to be unhappy with his caregiver.
Remind yourself, too, that your toddler is capable of forging an emotional attachment with more than one adult in his life. It's normal for a child to have a loving bond with his mum and dad, with his grandparents, with his brothers and sisters, and also with the maid who cares for him when mum and dad are at work.
Significant psychological problems could result from him not being comfortable with anyone other than you or your partner.
Research has proved that when a child forms a psychological bond with one, his ability to form other bonds with other loving adults in his life does not diminish. In other words, he can love you and the maid (and aunts, uncles and grandparents) all at the same time.
This should reassure you. No matter how much you read into his reaching out to the maid, avoid overreacting. You have nothing to fear. The maid’s input supplements your care and affection, it does not compete with it, nor does it replace it. You remain your toddler’s parent, no matter what.
There are some practical steps you can take. For instance, if your child reaches out to the maid when you come home from work, take hold of him anyway.
Maybe he’ll burst into tears, maybe he will turn his head longingly towards the maid. These mildly negative reactions will pass within a few minutes, as long as you persist.
Ignore his protests and carry on with whatever you intended to do with him.
Never back away and leave him with the maid in the mistaken belief that this is what he really wants. He just needs time to adjust to the change in caregivers, that’s all.
That’s why it is always an effective strategy to immerse yourself in child-care chores as soon as you get home.
There is no doubt that you are tired at the end of a working day and probably would love to put your feet up. But that’s precisely the time to re-connect with your toddler.
Force yourself to find the energy to play with him, to read to him, and to feed him and change him.
If you wait until later in the evening when you feel more restored, he could well fall asleep and you would have missed another opportunity to strengthen the emotional connection between you.
During the weekends, spend some time exclusively with your toddler when everyone at home is more relaxed.
The more fun you have with him the better; this will ensure that his parents remain number one in his life, at all times.
By Young Parents, 25 May 2016
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