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How can I get my child to accept that I must work?

Nicole in Louisville
My oldest of two acted the same way at first. Then we did a special activity together when I came home, like coloring, watching a movie or reading a book. I also let my daughter tell me how her day went, which worked well.

Pamela in Gardenville
Instead of cuddle time have playtime with her. Take her outside or play with her toys. She may be going though a stage where she has a lot of energy and can't sit still. I'm sure she's not upset that you have to work, so don't beat yourself up about that. Just let her tell you what she likes.

Tracy in Cincinnati, Ohio
Try having your daughter's favorite book nearby so she'll come to you to have you read it. That way you can cuddle and read. Be sure to tell her you love her before and after you read the book. You should get quite a lot of hugs then.

Zelly in Des Moines
I always make a fuss over my daughter at childcare. I come in looking for her, like I've been lost without her. She gives me big hugs and kisses but then wants downtime while I talk to her caregiver. So we use the time before she goes to bed to cuddle.

Lisa in Dalton
Have you tried letting your daughter take her time coming around to you? Kids really know how to play on a mom's guilty conscience! Once your daughter sees that her tantrums aren't effective, she'll most likely tire of them.

Jamie in West Jordan
Maybe you could bring her home a present once in a while, like a small box of candy, telling her that you got it because you love her. You could also call her while you're at work to tell her that you're thinking about her. She's bound to get the point that you love her, and she'll want to cuddle with you sooner or later.

Margery in Buffalo
Just spending time doing activities that she likes will show her that you love her. Give her the quality time that you're both looking for, but in ways that appeal to her.

Lisa in Green City
I think it would be a good idea not to force her to snuggle the minute you get home. Kids are more likely to warm up to you if you don't pressure them into things. If you have to fix supper when you get home, do it, and tell her what you're doing. Maybe even try taking a bubble bath when you get home and see if she wants to join you.

Kenneth N. Condrell, Ph.D
Since your daughter is only 18 months old she's too young to understand why you have to work. All she knows is that you're not with her. At the same time she's also too young to inflict punishment on you for your absence. It may seem that she's directing her temper tantrums at you; more likely she's expressing general frustration.

While your natural impulse after a long day of work is to cuddle with your daughter, it may not be what she wants to do the moment you come through the door. Instead, try sitting on the floor quietly with a few toys and snacks, and wait for her to come to you. This approach may help her acclimate to your return home. Speaking of toys, put away a few of her favorites before you leave the house. Then, when you come home, bring them out. This way your daughter associates special fun with you.

Since you must spend so much time away from your daughter, make the most of your time with her. If you have weekends off, capitalize on those hours to play with her as much as possible. Tell her that you love her, and show it by having fun with her.

Years ago I discouraged parents from sleeping with their children because of concerns that it would result in bedtime problems. However, times have changed; parents spend more time away from their children than before. If you think sharing a bed with your toddler will give you an extra opportunity to be close to her, and if you think that outranks any sleep struggles that may ensue, by all means try it —but only if you keep safety issues in mind, such as guard rails for your bed, which will prevent her from falling out. (A note to any readers with babies is in order here: you should never sleep with an infant because of the danger of rolling over and unintentionally suffocating the child.)

Finally, rethink your job situation. Is there any possibility you can work for a company that has in-house daycare? If so you'll be able to visit your daughter while you're at work, giving you more time during the day to enjoy each other's company.

If not, perhaps you can seek employment that allows you to spend more time with your daughter between now and the time she enters kindergarten. Remember, those are important years in a child's development. If the change in your schedule helps your daughter feel better, you're sure to view it as a worthwhile career move.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education