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When Your Child Picks Favorites

Your toddler has a favorite blanket, toy, snack, and now ... parent. Here's what to do when you won't do.
father and son playing Don't Take It Personally

Your increasingly independent kid is developing his own preferences, and thanks to his budding vocabulary, he can now verbalize his likes and dislikes. However, toddlers are struggling with these intense new desires, and they won't always express them in the most pleasant ways. "Your child doesn't yet understand that he has the power to hurt people's feelings," says Erin Floyd, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist in Atlanta. "If he screams for you to give the book to Daddy and go away, it doesn't mean he loves you less -- he may just be in the mood for the way your husband reads to him."

Play it cool when he passes you over. If you act sad or angry, that can actually cause your child to pull farther away. Instead, encourage his bond with your spouse, which will let him know that when he comes back to you, you'll accept him with open arms. "As fierce as toddlers can be about what they want in the moment, they also change their minds frequently and with just as much passion," says Alison Gopnik, Ph.D., author of The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life.