by Charlene Little, Contributing Writer
Why Do Toddlers Cling:
Toddlers cling for many reasons. The first thing you must do is determine why your child is clinging to you so tightly. In most cases, clinginess is a reaction to their environment. Typically it means that they have anxiety about something, or they are fearful of something. Many times, this is a fear of being separated from the person that provides most of their care. Other times, the clinging child is responding to a change in their environment and feels that life is unpredictable. This is especially true if their is a new baby in the home.
How to Handle a Clingy Child:
Dealing with a clingy child can be difficult. Most likely, your nerves are shot, your house is a mess, and you are ready to pull out your hair. Responding to this feeling does not help the child it only causes more negative feelings. If your child is clinging to someone in particular, you should see that as a positive. They feel safe and close to that person and they have a way to feel comfort when they are upset. Do not punish the child for this behavior. The key is to gently persuade the child to release their proverbial suction cup on their own.
Identifying the Reason:
Identifying the reason for your stick tight may not be easy, but it is an important step. If your child responds the same way at the same time of day, pay attention their cues to determine what they want. Are they tired? Do they want to play? Are they just ready for some quite time? Once you figure out why your child is being clingy, you can then explain to them how they feel. Explaining to them how they feel can help you explain this to them in a way they can understand. If they can talk, it is even better because you can teach them how to express what they are feeling rather than cling to someone.
Making things predictable for your child can be very beneficial to both of you. If they know what to expect they are less likely to have anxiety. Even if you have the same schedule for your child everyday, they may not understand this.
Toddlers have limited, to no sense of time which can make things difficult for them to predict. Reminding them of that schedule can help them to limit anxiety. Let them know what happens next in their day. For instance, if they are playing, give them a ten minute warning before nap time. Not only will this reduce their anxiety, but it will also help build a sense of time and coordination.
Following these steps is a great start toward building independence in your toddler. It worked for me, and it will work for you!
Originally Published on Yahoo! Voices
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