• Unclinging a Clingy Child

    Unclinging a Clingy Child

    Unclinging a Clingy Child

    What does your child do when you drop them off at day care? Some kids’ natural curiosity kicks in and they wander away towards a peer or toy. Others are more cautious, preferring to stay by mom or dad until a teacher or caregiver invites them to join the fun. Then there’s the clingy child, the one who holds onto mom or dad for dear life and cry the second they leave. If your child falls into the last category, we’re here to help.

    Growing Pains

    The instinct to cling to mom or dad develops around age 4. Until then, almost everything a child experiences of the world they experience with a parent. It can be hard for a child to suddenly be alone. Most 4-year-olds can walk and talk, but their brains are still working on instinct. The first sign of danger or discomfort can set off an alarm in the mind of a youngster. Clinging to a parent is one of the only ways they know how to soothe themselves. But how do you stop this behavior?

    How To Handle A Clingy Child

    Don’t wait until the moment of separation, like when you drop them off, to raise the issue. Approach your child when they are calm and ask them about how they feel when you part. Reassure them; let them know you are always coming back for them and that any separation is strictly temporary. It can be helpful to give your child something of yours to hold onto, like a picture or small charm, so they feel part of you is always with them.

    Try practicing a parting ritual, like a special hug or handshake that you do with your child before separating. This ritual should have two parts, one you do before you part and one you do when you are reunited. This helps reinforce the idea that you are coming back and therefore your child has nothing to worry about.

    father-and-son

    Breaking the Cycle

    The tendency to cling tends to get worse if indulged, so try to break the habit as soon as you notice it. Although it may seem painful, very few kids continually long for their parents in these situations; once you leave the room they focus their attention elsewhere. Use the above tips to ease the separation process and the clinging habit should be broken in a matter of weeks.

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