A girlfriend playing with a toddler can encourage bonding.

How to Introduce Toddlers to a New Girlfriend

by Candice Coleman

You have met a woman, and your views are in agreement in so many areas: politics, religion, rearing a family. She sends your heart aflutter, but she has yet to meet your tyke. It dawns on you that these two wonderful people need to meet and pronto. But put on the brakes, Dad; your tyke is going to need time to adjust slowly to this change, and your new girlfriend may also need time to adjust to your family. Slow and steady is a good mantra to live by when it comes to introducing your new love to your son.

1. Timing of the Introduction

If your current girlfriend is your first since you broke up with your tyke's mother, your tyke may be hoping to see Mommy and Daddy back together again. Alternatively, if the relationship started soon after your break-up, your tyke may view your new girlfriend as a responsible party. Ideally, you should only introduce your new girlfriend when the relationship has gotten serious. Introducing several short-term girlfriends to your tot can make her less likely to bond with any of them.

2. Discussions Before the Introduction

Talk to your girlfriend about your tyke: your son's hobbies and interests and your break-up from his mother. These notes not only help your new girlfriend understand what your son may be going through, but they can also help her bond with your son. You will also need to discuss things with your son. Explain that you have met a woman who makes you happy. Your new girlfriend's name and one or two of her interests can help your child start processing that someone new is coming into his life.

3. Initial Introduction

Put out the toys, books and your tyke's favorite foods because your new girlfriend is coming over. Keep your tot on your lap or at least in close physical proximity when your girlfriend arrives. Your daughter may feel threatened if she plays alone while you and your new girlfriend spend time together. Instead, play games or read books with your toddler together. These activities can help everybody bond. Keep the introduction short, Dad. This initial but brief visit can help your daughter slowly adjust to her changing world.

4. Follow-Up Visits

The initial introduction may be over, but your tot is still getting to know your new girlfriend. Buckle up, Dad; take your girlfriend and your tyke to a miniature golf course or a park to bond. These group outings can reinforce that your new girlfriend is an addition to your family and not a replacement for your child. Spend plenty of one-on-one time with your tyke between visits with your girlfriend as these can help protect your child from feelings of jealousy.

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