By Jana Angeles
As your child grows older, you’ll notice they’ll experience a ‘clingy’ phase. Grabbing you by the arm or leg and begging you not to leave while looking at you with their cute little eyes, it’s a tough world being a parent when you want them to become independent and be okay while you’re away for periods of time. There’s nothing worse than dropping off your child to daycare, clinging on to you with no mercy, crying with lots of tears and mucus running down their face. It’s a bit embarrassing, but you just have to accept the fact that it happens. We talk you through the phases of toddler attachment and what to do to help your child go on to the path of independence!
You’re the favourite parent
It always feels good to be the favourite parent, but not in the context of child clinginess. If you find that your daughter or son gets too attached with you and it has become difficult to leave the house without them chasing after you, ask the parent their less clingy towards to spend more time with your child. If it means taking over the bath and bedtime story duties, let them take the reins for once so there’s balance between mum and dad time.
Try the leave-the-room trick
If your toddler is occupied with something, try and leave them by themselves in the room. If you are about to give them a nappy change, let them know that you’re nearby and getting a new nappy for them. Keep talking to them constantly so they know that you haven’t technically left them. If you do this on the regular, they could get used to their newfound independence!
Let them play with others
If you feel like they depend on your presence all the time, ease your toddler into playing with other people. Whether it be their friends or immediate family members, let them interact and engage with them instead of you. Avoid carrying them at all times and ensure that they trust the person they’re playing with. It’s understandable if your child feels anxious or shy around new people, especially if kids their own age are playing in the park.
But it’s definitely important to expose them to all different kinds of environments so they feel comfortable creating their own space of play without you. If your child is extra clingy, sit them on your lap while they play and let them get used to that. The more times you do this, the easier it gets to just place them on the floor so that they can resume playing by themselves.
Childcare is tough for some parents, especially if their toddlers are clingy and don’t want them to go! We feel that pain, we really do – it’s almost overwhelming for us as parents to get to that stage of dropping off our kids to childcare. If you’re finding it difficult to drop off your child and always feel guilty about it, slowly ease your toddler into going to childcare a couple of hours a week.
Make sure you get into a suitable routine and always give them a kiss and a goodbye hug when you leave. Reassure them that you will be picking them up afterwards. Repeat it if necessary. After they become a little more confident, have them stay a full-day in childcare. Celebrate that they’re not throwing tantrums or crying anymore. Embrace the small wins we go through as parents.
Toddler attachment isn’t necessarily a bad thing because all of them go through it at some point. In some way or another, your child will gain the confidence to be independent from you. Just be patient and give it time. At the end of the day, they are still kids so ensure you give them extra support and love during the ‘clingy’ stage of growing up.