Updated: Oct 8, 2022
My 3 year old Son only wants me to do things with him.
"Mummy do it" he says. He gives my husband such a hard time. When I am away everything runs pretty well.
How do we break this behaviour and teach him to be happy doing things with other people?
There are a few reasons here that could be causing this unwanted behavior.
Firstly, children have huge feelings that they are unsure how to express or deal with. In this case he is choosing his Mum to be the person to express these emotions with because maybe he feels no one else accepts them.
On the flip side it could be that he senses his Mum is really NOT comfortable with his feelings; he then chooses Mum more because he needs to feel that she is comfortable with, and welcoming of all his feelings – even the ugly ones.
Then he can move on.
He will continue this until he sees that you - Mum, are strong, capable and comfortable.
It is also possible that he senses that when you are present, you feel that you are the only one that can care for him and give him what he needs. He can sense this feeling through your actions and in return he is feeling anxious to have anyone else care for him.
Ask yourself - am I 100percent confident in the people caring for my child?
Either way, help him move through this phase by being comfortable with his feelings. You can do this by welcoming them with your words and body language.
You can say “You feel like you want me to do it?" Tell me more about that” or
“It's Ok to be sad, let me hug you so you can cry”
You can do this briefly but sincerely, and still move forward handing things over to your husband or continue to go about your day whilst accepting his feelings.
You can say “ohh I see you want me; it’s Dad's turn right now - I’m going into the kitchen to cook dinner” Be totally fine with how he feels about your decision and confidently move forward onto your next task.
Don’t try and talk him out of his feelings just let them be.
He needs you to be ok with his disagreeing behaviour so he can process it and move on.
Another reason could be control.
Young children tend to use control for 3 reasons:
“I can’t control myself (feelings) – so I will control everyone else”
“I do not feel in control of my world – so I will control everything else”
“I have way too much control over you – this is scary so I will keep going there - please give me a boundary”
These three situations can be supported by;
Accepting and welcoming all feelings, so he can experience them and then begin to learn self-control.
Providing a predictable environment at home - create a visual schedule and include as many events as possible.
Setting boundaries calmly and confidently - and by accepting any dis-ease or push back as healthy and normal.