The Do's and Don'ts of Dealing with a Clingy Child
When you come home, he instantly latches on to you, giving you a warm embrace, kissing your face, and never letting go of your hand. On the weekends, he wants to be with you always, asking you to accompany him to Kumon class and bugging you to play with him the minute he sees you resting after finishing your chores. Getting out the door is always a bit of a challenge because he always makes a big ruckus. Is your child clingy? Most definitely, yes! Okay, the good news is that a fair amount of clinginess is natural and normal in a healthy parent-child relationship. You're the rock by which your child stands on. He can crawl off to different adventures because he knows that you'd be there for him always. The flip side to this is that when he encounters a situation that's new, different, or indecipherable to his young mind, he naturally runs to you for a bit of extra support.
Take note too that some kids are just needier than others.
The key is how you manage your child's moments of clinginess. You may not know it but how you act or react may actually be causing your child to cling to you more. So here are a couple of do's and don'ts on how to deal with the clingy child.
Do keep to a regular routine. Kids love the routine and the predictable. They want to know what's going to happen next. It gives them a sense of safety and security. The more predictable everything is in his life, the less likely he'll feel frazzled and the less likely he'll need further assurance from you.
If changes must be made on his schedule, then communicate to him exactly what's going to happen. If you're going on vacation, for example, describe to him how you're going to get to your destination, how long it will take, and what you'll be doing there. If he's riding the plane for the first time, show him photographs of a plane and its interiors. Answer all his questions. Put yourself in your child's shoes: if you were asked to ride in a mode of transportation that you have not seen in your entire life, wouldn't you want to know everything about it?
Do respect your child's feeling of clinginess. When your child is extra clingy, be sensitive enough to find out why. Don't push him away. Don't get annoyed. And don't try to distract him with a toy or candy either. Your child is clinging to you for a reason. Acknowledge his need, and find out the cause of his behavior. Has there been a change in his schedule? Is there something new in his life? Perhaps he is anxious about the visit to the dentist that you told him about earlier? When you know the cause of his clinginess, you will know how to manage it better.
Don't sneak out on him when you have to step out of the house. How many of us had deceived our kids into thinking that we weren't leaving when in fact, we had one foot out the door? Not a few.
This is such a no-no. By leaving him without saying a proper goodbye and without assuring him of your return, you only add to his fears and anxiety. When you do come back and you find him clinging to you like a vine, you can't blame him. You just vanished into thin air after all.
The better way is to let your child know that you are leaving and what time he should expect you to come back. This way he can still hold on to a semblance of predictability. Don't prolong the goodbyes either. Stride away confidently, no matter if he throws a wild ruckus.
Don't hover over him. As parents, you want your child to develop a sense of confidence and independence so that he can eventually fly off on his own. But when you're always on his case, feeding him his meals, doing his homework, and not training him to do any type of chore, he'll only depend on you more and more.
Do take your child out on a date, just the two of you. Every week, go off with your child, just the two of you. No yaya, no spouse, no siblings, no friends, no relatives. For a few hours, give your child your undivided attention. Have a picnic at the park. Watch an animated feature. Visit a museum. Your child will revel in the special attention, further strengthening your bond.
A child being clingy every so often is but normal. Once you learn how to manage these moments, you and your child will be able to deal with them more effectively.
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