Need a little extra support in how to deal with a clingy toddler? Clinginess in a toddler refers to a stage in which a toddler does not want to separate from his or her parents. Young children will show different behaviors that reflect their clinginess.
When this can be reassuring for a lot of parents that their child loves them a lot (because they are always trying to be with them!) but in some end, it’s also a problem because many parents don’t know how to deal with it and don’t want their child to be hurt by them leaving.
Your child may stick to you even when you ask him or her to stop BUT I promise that there are several effective ways to deal with your child’s clingy phase.
Here are 16 ways that will prove useful in dealing with your clingy toddler or clingy kids:
How To Deal With A Clingy Toddler:
1. Reassure your toddler:
If your little one clings when you are about to leave the house or go to work then this tip can help you in dealing with him or her! Share with them where you are going and reassure them by holding their hands or looking into their eyes that you WILL be back on time. This will make your child understand that it is necessary for you to leave but that you will definately be back!
2. Get your toddler playing with other children:
This is important for the development of your toddler’s social skills – that you encourage him to play with other children as well as to play independently. A play date with known friends and mom nearby is a great starting point. Don’t force him to do this but you may set a routine in which he gets a chance to play on his own as well. This sense of independence will help him to reduce his clingy behavior.
3. Try to avoid long Goodbyes:
Long goodbyes only lead to increased anxiety levels – for both parties. A great way to say goodbye is to set a routine for saying it, doing it the same every time and avoid extending it. If you say goodbye again and again then it will just trigger in their mind the sense of separation so it’s better to just hug and say a short goodbye once (or twice if needed).
4. Use comforting language:
If you have to leave home for a few days or you live away from your child (i.e divorced households), do not leave him with just a simple goodbye. You can say something along the lines of:
- I love you, sweetheart. I’ll be back soon.
- I’ll miss you. I’ll call you as soon as I get there.
These lines or any other you think will comfort your child can help in reducing clingy behavior and an even harder time leaving.
5. Observe the changes in your child’s life:
It is important to know what is going on in your young one’s life so you can know why he is behaving clingy.
Some of the changes may be:
- The addition of a new sibling and your undivided attention or even the child shows this behavior because he thinks that the new baby will be loved more – especially if it’s a clingy baby!
- New school
- New home – no longer at the secure base that they are used to
- First time at the day care or child care.
Remembers that you should be aware of the reason to stop this behavior.
6. Don’t be super strict or rude:
Don’t threaten your little love for their clingy behavior, as the primary caregiver, you are his/her “safety net”. A child’s anxiety doesn’t need to be punished but instead try to understand your child’s feelings.
You can assure him or her by saying: “I would have also done the same if I were you” or ” At some times we all feel the same way as you do”. This will help him/her understand that it’s normal and she/he needs to minimize it.
7. Don’t ignore the behavior:
Ignoring isn’t going to stop it, it will only hurt your child and makethem feel that you don’t have enough time for them or they have no importance in your life. Some parents think that if they ignore when their child holds their leg or tries to cuddle all the time then they will stop doing this. Yes, there is a chance that they will stop doing this, but in a way that is going to hurt both of you!
It’s really important to address your child’s needs so that the clinginess doesn’t continue on and on because of unmet needs.
8. Praise Your Little One:
Don’t forget to praise them when they successfully spend the time without you or when they start being less clingy. In this way, they will get to know that you like it when they are not always clinging to you. This will also give them extra pleasure which will encourage them to continue the non-clingy behavior. Win!
9. Understand your child’s feelings:
Give some time to him or her and try to understand how they feel. Clinginess can also be as a result of what they feel is a lack of attention, so give him or her proper attention to help regulate their emotions.
10. Take your toddler with you to social events:
Social events can help develop social skills, period. Usually, the anxiety may increase before a social gathering but if you (or other close family members) try to be with them at the gathering and just show them how YOU are talking to others, then it will help a lot.
They’ll observe how are you interacting with other people and how normal is this to talk to others. They’ll then also start doing this and be less clingy with you, and more comfortable with others.
11. Be mindful of the problem at your end:
Maybe it’s your behavior that is making your child clingy and increasing his social anxiety – sorry!! So you should see if there is any behavior you are displaying which he may be trying to copy. Sometimes it’s the parents that make the child like this by making them so much more dependent on the parent/s.
Maybe you always used to be around your child and didn’t give him or her the chance to be familiar with others or maybe you became so protective of him/her that now he/she wants wants you everywhere. So now it has become irritating how your child is not leaving you alone for even 5 minutes, while you were the one who developed the habit in the first place. Eek!
12. Prepare them for something new:
A new situation can be overwhelming or anyone, let alone a tiny human. Before going to a new place you can show pictures of the place to your toddler so they can get an idea of where they are about to go. You can also tell them that the new experience will be exciting and awesome and that they will enjoy it a lot – be convincing, maman.
It will build a child’s confidence if he/she already knows where he/she is going and will be able to enjoy himself/herself without being clingy.
13. Encourage them to express their feelings:
If your child is expressive then it is a little bit easier to control their clingy behavior, as you can ASK them how they feel. If you know how the child feels and the reason behind their clinginess, then you will be able to solve the issue much, much faster. Isn’t it great when they start using their words!
14. Start the separation process gradually!
You can start by leaving your child with some familiar faces. In this way, he/she will be prepared to go to places where there are strangers, and (hopefully) not be clingy due to the fear of facing said strangers.
15. Try not to cry in front of them at separation time:
It is good to be emotional in front of your child, to display normal emotions and feelings- but try not to cry in front of them at the drop off! If you’ll do so then they’ll think that they can also do this whenever the two of you are being separated, even if it’s for 5 minutes. So try to be strong in front of them so they act strong when you are not around them.
16. Comfort your little one:
Try and remember that they are only this small once, and soon you’ll be wishing they needed you as much as they did! An extra 20 seconds of a cuddle at daycare drop off is not going to hurt – just don’t you go crying too!
These are some of the ways that will help you control your toddler’s clingy behavior as a good parent – so that he or she doesn’t become one of those clingy children who won’t go to sleepovers on their own! If, all is said and done, and you’ve tried everything you can as their parent – it may be time for a visit to the clinical psychologist.
Why Is My Toddler Extremely Clingy?
If you want to deal with your clingy child then first of all you need to know the reasons behind the child’s clinginess.
This behavior can still appear up to late primary school, but usually starts and ends around 2 -4 years of age. This may occur due to separation anxiety disorder or the fear of losing your loved ones. The child feels comfortable and safe around his parents so sometimes due to this feeling and the sense of secure attachment the child wants to stay with his parents wherever he goes or wherever he is.
Another factor that causes this behavior is stranger anxiety which is the fear of being put in a new place and among new people with whom the child is not familiar.
Why Trust My Toddler Life?
My Toddler Life is run by mama’s, for mama’s. All information provided on our site is thoroughly researched and takes in to consideration our lived experiences and the opinions of industry professionals. How are we different from other sites doing the same thing? We have fun while doing it (often with a glass of wine in hand) and don’t take ourselves too seriously!