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Does my son act up in response to his dad’s work schedule?
Q: I’m a stay-at-home mum to our 4-year-old son. My husband and I have a loving relationship, and we love our son very much. However, our son has what we call “daddy-hating days.” My husband works nights and he has to leave us every evening. I wonder if my son’s antics have to do with my husband’s schedule. I’m constantly explaining that daddy is good, and that he works so I can be home with him and so that we can have a home, food, etc. Please help.
A: First, I would stop using the phrase “daddy-hating days,” which probably makes you feel there’s something wrong with your son.

The good news is that his behaviour is typical. At around the age of 4 children begin to learn that they need to share their parents. It’s not unusual for young children to prefer their mothers to their dads. Little boys can become especially possessive; they may even feel jealous that they have to share mum with dad.

With time your son will stop acting out, but you can also help him right now. First, be patient and don’t overreact to his behaviour. Have your husband gently engage his son in activities that are appealing to little boys. Your husband should take special care not to intimidate your son or be rough with him. Instead he needs to gently show him how great it is to be close to his daddy.

If possible, leave the house so your husband and son have undivided time together. As long as you’re in the house your son will almost always choose you. When you’re away, he will discover that being with dad is special. Good luck, and take your time.

Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist