Clinginess among toddlers is normal. This is a stage when growth and development occur. A clingy toddler feels anxious and fearful, especially when there are changes like going to preschool.
While having a clingy toddler can be tiring and overwhelming for a parent, it is important to understand that it is a normal stage of growing up. Understand that their clinginess is built on the secure connection they have towards you. So next time your toddler becomes too clingy, do not feel upset and learn to be more patient.
How to handle a clingy toddler?
Avoid punishing or ignoring their clingy behavior
As a parent, it is easy to get upset when your toddler becomes too clingy. However, keep in mind that this behavior is generally a positive sign that your toddler feels safe and secure under your care. It means that they look for you when they are feeling distressed and need your loving attention.
So instead of ignoring or punishing them for their behavior, think of the reason why they are clingy. Give them the assurance that they need. Show understanding and compassion. Make your toddler feel that this behavior is normal and others feel it too.
Pay attention to how you respond to your clingy toddler
Managing your response to their clinginess is important. It is so easy to get angry when things get difficult with your toddler. As an adult, despite being in charge of the situation, avoid using harsh and demanding words. Be firm without having to raise your voice. When you have to leave them with another caregiver or a teacher, assure that you will return. Make them feel that being away from you is just temporary and there is nothing to be afraid of.
It is also important that when you have to leave, do not sneak out nor make goodbyes too dramatic. A simple hug and kiss to reassure them that you will see them again will do.
Allow independence and self-sufficiency
One of the things a parent can do to lessen clinginess among toddlers is to encourage self-sufficiency and independence. Build their self-confidence by giving them the ability to make their own decisions. Let them perform tasks or offer opportunities to help with simple household chores. Give them simple tasks like making their bed, dusting the furniture, putting their toys back on the shelves, and so on.
Knowing that they are able to do things on their own makes them feel more confident and less clingy.
Empathize and acknowledge how they feel
Clinginess is normal and letting your toddler understand their own feelings is important. Make them feel that they should not be ashamed if they are too clingy nor feel bad about it. Instead, empathize with them. Growing up is not easy – we all went through that process.
Understanding how your toddler feels helps them calm down. Show them how much being with them means to you, but you have to leave. It gives them the assurance and confidence that you will come back for them.
Spend time with others
Your toddler has gotten used to having you around – you are their security blanket and comfort zone. Manage this behavior by allowing your toddler to spend more time with others. They will feel less anxious and scared when they are around other people.
Schedule a weekend with other adults in their life – like their grandparents, cousins, or other kids in the neighborhood. Invite close friends and family for a weekly lunch or schedule a playdate with dad. Having this routine will help your toddler get used to people other than you.
Clinginess is just temporary. This behavior will normally go away once your toddler learns to adjust to any changes and develop skills independently. Be mindful of any changes. Observe your toddler’s reactions to any of these tips.
Do they become more comfortable with others now? Are they still as clingy as before? Praising your toddler also helps boost their self-confidence and independence. If they learned how to spend the day without having you around, acknowledge that and praise them. Rewarding them for good behavior or progress towards self-sufficiency can also be helpful.
If you need more advice on how to manage toddler behaviors or looking for the best preschool in town, visit Elite Preschool.