Clingy behaviour is a common issue among toddlers and it can continue till they are 7-8 years of age. However, rest assured that there is nothing to worry about as it is a natural reaction in children.
Here are some ways to deal with the clingy stage of your children.
Find Out the Reason
Clingy behaviour is mostly a sign of separation anxiety. It can happen when the child is used to seeing or being taken care of by only you or another caretaker. If this person goes away for even a few moments, they feel scared and lonely. At times, some major life changes such as a new school, migration to a new city, arrival of a sibling, parent resuming work after maternity/paternity leave, divorce or death in the family can also cause clingy behaviour. Sometimes, it is simply to get your attention.
Being clingy makes them feel secure.
Acknowledge Their Emotions
While clinginess can push your physical and mental limits and you might even feel like yelling at your kids, remember that you are the adult here. As a parent, it is your responsibility to acknowledge their emotions and pay attention to them. Ignoring them or shouting at them will make them feel vulnerable, anxious and unprotected.
Ease Out the Separation Anxiety
You can help your child transition through separation anxiety gradually. For example, you can leave them for a few minutes alone or with some and go to another room. You can even go for a short shopping trip or enrol them in a play centre or pre-primary school. The child might cry or look lost for the first few times but then s/he will become accustomed to your absence.
Maintain a Routine
Nothing makes children feel more secure and comfortable than a structured routine. Let them eat, sleep and play at the same time every day so that it becomes predictable for them. The routine can also include a certain period when you won’t be around. The child will understand it as a part of the routine. However, make sure that you don’t disappear randomly – bid them goodbye with kisses and hugs. Also, be there by their side when they go to sleep – they will know that you have returned home.
Make Them Social
If your child is used to seeing only a handful of familiar people, they might not be comfortable in social settings. Take them to the park, activity classes or play dates to help them open up to other people and reduce their clinginess.
Clinginess is just a phase in your children’s development and they will outgrow it soon. One day, they will become so independent that you might miss their clinginess! Hang in there till that time!