Although sometimes stressful, having a clingy toddler is normal. It usually happens completely out of the blue: your normal outgoing, playful toddler can suddenly turn into a stressed, whining third arm, and as a parent you are not quite sure how to deal with it.
On one side, it is awfully upsetting to see your toddler upset; you can’t help but want to pick them up and shower him/her with cuddles. But while you want to comfort your child, you can’t get much done with a toddler constantly crying for your attention.
If your child does become clingy all of a sudden it may mean there has been a change in your toddler’s circumstances. It is important to remember the slightest change in a toddler’s routine is enough to set him/her off course. Your toddler’s cognitive thinking is not at a stage when they can make sense of change.
A change in circumstance could be anything from another pregnancy, stress at home, longer hours in crèche, moving rooms in crèche, staff might have changed or a new child could have started.
There is no quick fix here and it is usually best to give your toddler as much support and comfort until they are ready to go back into the world of being an independent toddler hell bent on exploring everything in sight and trusting mummy and daddy will always be there.
Try these tips to help:
Acknowledge the feelings
Acknowledge the fear – whether it is a bathroom break or time to go to work. Reassure him/her that he is safe and mummy and daddy will always look after him and keep him safe.
Talk it out
Let’s face it, communicating with a toddler is never easy but it is a key part of reassuring their fears. Mum’s instinct is usually always right and we can nearly tell straight away when or what is making our children feel scared or uncomfortable. Use your mum instinct.
If your child is making strange or doesn’t like to be in crowded place it is best to prepare him/her. Let him know exactly where he is going and what or who he will be seeing. ‘We’re going to Erin’s house and we’re going to see all your friends Jack, Liam, Michelle etc.’
This is so important – even though it may seem easier to run while he is not looking and is happy playing. At some point your toddler will notice you are no longer there and the fall-out can be a hundred times worse. Some children literally cry from morning until evening for their parents in crèche and that is the last thing any parent wants. It may be hard in the beginning but by the end of the week, it will become an established part of your toddler’s routine and something he will eventually get used to.
Give him a substitute you
A comfort blanket, cuddle toy or a soother is a great source of comfort to any toddler. Make sure it’s something that reminds him of home and smells like mum.
If your child is focusing his attention on one particular parent it means he/she feels a sense of security with that parent that they may not get from other people in their life. This is a sign of the strong bond between parent and child.