Q: When my two year old gets hurt or upset, she sometimes runs to her babysitter instead of me. Am I nuts to be jealous?
A: No, you are not nuts. You are a mother -- with that comes a whirlwind of emotions. But you need to remember that your child is capable of having many relationships. You are not being replaced, your child just has another someone special in her life. Think of how you'd feel if the opposite were true -- if your child ran from her caregiver. That would raise all sorts of red flags.
Think, too, about your relationship with the caregiver. If you know and trust her it will be easier to see her as your partner, not your competitor, in rearing your child.
Finally, step back and think about what your child experiences when she is with you. Are your mornings rushed and your evenings harried? Perhaps the caregiver gives your child more dedicated time. Of course that's her job, while you are often juggling a million other responsibilities. Try carving out some time to "just be" with your child. It could be as simple as declaring the 15 minutes before starting supper as a time just to sit and look at a book or toss a ball with your child. This does not mean elaborate activities or buying your child toys and treats. The treat in this situation is you!
Patricia Hearron, PhD, professor of child development and early childhood education in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, has been involved in childcare and early education for over 30 years.
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