It’s common for young children to display clingy behavior, but it can be challenging for family members to deal with. Luckily, parents can learn how to deal with a clingy toddler or child. These social skills below will give your kid a confidence boost, and help them out of the clingy phase.
I got used to my daughter crying like I fled the country every time I used the bathroom alone.
Carrying her around while trying to do household chores became commonplace.
Also, I understood why she clung to me like a leach when I tried to drop her off at day care. Those were long days apart from each other.
When my little girl was almost three years old we had a new baby, and the whole thing only intensified. The periodic clinginess transformed into permanent shadow mode.
When I noticed by clingy toddler missing out on experiences, such as not leaving my side at social events or sitting on my lap during a play date, I realized I needed to try to intervene.
To be honest, I was a little mentally exhausted, but I was more concerned with her.
Related: Importance of Sports for Kids
How to Deal with a Clingy Toddler or Kid
Having clingy children is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a strong sign that your child has a beautiful and secure attachment to you. Your child feels comfortable around you.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains that separation anxiety and the clingy stage rarely persists on a daily basis after early childhood.
However, with a little extra support, there are different ways to help young kids gain the confidence to step into the light and thrive and grow.
1) Understand You are Their Secure Base
You are the tree trunk and your child is a branch. Although they are growing, they still feel comfort knowing you are close by.
When there is a significant change in your child’s life (such as a new sibling or a new situation), it is expected to see some extra clinginess.
You are their safe haven in life.
It can be frustrating to never have a moment alone, but getting upset with your child won’t make them feel any different.
Instead, make sure you take time out of the day to focus and give your child your undivided attention. Remind yourself that your child is not being a bad kid, they just need to feel connected to you, and this is normal.
Try this method to make your kid feel notably special in under 10 minutes a day.
2) Provide New Experiences for Growth
Any new experience you can give your child, will give them the confidence and new skills to try new things.
Frequent adventures can help kids learn who they are – what they love and what they don’t like.
Try taking your child:
- On hikes
- To parks
- Visit to a museum
- On an outing to a sporting event
Don’t get frustrated if you bring them somewhere new and they are slow to let go of your hand. They will step away when they feel ready and comfortable and this may take some time.
You may also like: How to Encourage Shy Kids to Try New Things
3) Look for Confidence Booster Opportunities
Sometimes, seemingly simple tasks such as meeting someone new at a social gathering can be a big deal for your child.
Also, chore charts and other daily routines at home are a great way to boost their self-worth and teach them what it means to be a bigger part of the family.
Pay attention to these accomplishments, and tell your child how proud of them you are.
This simple meditation exercise is proven to help boost confidence.
4) Gently Introduce Them to New People and New Places
I remember getting frustrated when we would go someone new with my daughter and she would be visibly stressed and miserable.
Nothing is scarier for a clingy child than being thrust into a new place surrounded by new people.
Gently transition your child into a new place with these tips:
- Allow them to bring a older siblings or friend with them
- Do they have a special toy them love? Make sure to bring it along!
- What is your child’s favorite game? Can you get other kids to join in with him or her?
Allow your child as much time as they need to acclimate to their new surroundings.
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5) Watch for Something More Serious
Anytime we are talking about a child’s mental state, is is critical to touch on what to watch for.
Is your child’s clinginess a sign of something more serious?
Trust your gut. If you feel that your child has social delays or emotional issues reach out to the pediatrician or a clinical psychologist.
For example, separation anxiety disorder (SAD) is a type of mental health problem.
A child with SAD spends a lot of time worrying about being away from famiy. The child has a fear of being lost from their family or of something bad occurring to a family member if he or she is not with the person.
Watch for signs of something more serious, including:
- Not sleeping in their own bed
- Refusing to go to school
- Frequent stomachaches, headaches, or other physical complaints
- Lots of worry when parted from home or family
The bottom line is, while these symptoms can be normal from time to time, if you notice that it is impacting your child’s mental health, it is time to seek help.
Final Thoughts on How to deal with a clingy toddler
When we started following these 5 simple tips, we saw a major shift in our daughter.
Although she still, at the age of 8 years old, wants to be around us a lot she loves to play sports, visit friends, and go to school.
These tips helped me guide her to stop being my shadow and grow into the beautiful and unique little girl she is today.
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