Some days it can feel like toddlers wake up, walk by a giant container of glue and decide to stick themselves right onto us for the rest of the day. On these days, to manage even just a quick dash to the bathroom alone can be a difficult sometimes tear filled process.
Let’s be honest, no matter how much we love and enjoy our children, sometimes a mama has got to have a break. Over the years, all three of my children had their clingy days, even clingy phases that lasted weeks if not months. Coping with the clinginess in a positive and peaceful way although at times, a bit time consuming, really is possible.
Here are 10 ideas to prevent and get through the clingiest of times:
1. Start every day with snuggles and smiles: Even if you need to get dressed, or prep breakfast and your child wakes later than you, once your child is awake, choose a comfy spot to sit with your sleepy tot for just a few minutes. Ensuring a positive connection first thing in the morning really helps to build a connection and trust and reduce uncertainty in toddlers.
2. Involve your tot: Having tasks your toddler can do around the house that relate to what you need to do can go a long way in keeping your hands free and your toddler feeling connected, involved and important. Check out this list for ideas.
3. Set a routine: Toddlers crave predictability and routine. When your toddler knows that after breakfast there will be time to wash dishes followed by a story, followed by playtime, followed by a trip to the grocery store and so on they can start to predict their day and it reduces any possible fear of the unknown.
4. Communicate changes: It’s ok to be flexible with the routine or to change plans, just try to keep your toddlers perspective in mind too. Avoid sweeping them up abruptly and instead try to communicate changes clearly and prepare for transitions gently.
5. Use a carrier: Soft carrier, backpack style and hip carriers are a wonderful way to have your toddler nearby, feeling secure and still get things done.
6.Encourage independent play: Helping your toddler learn to play independently is a gift to both parents and child. The more you discover which activities really captivate your child’s interest, the more they will be inclined to play alone. This post has lots of simple and fun ideas toddlers really enjoy.
7. Special time: Create a habit of setting aside time for your toddler throughout the day where you disconnect from the TV, web, cell phone and really just connect with your toddler. It could be breastfeeding followed by a story or building with blocks together for twenty minutes. Stay present, enjoy your toddler’s discoveries and share in the joy uninterrupted – truly uninterrupted.
8. Investigate underlying causes: Sometimes toddlers become extra clingy when they are getting sick, have a bit of constipation, are learning to master a new skill such as balancing, new words, new concepts. Try to tune into your toddler, it may be a matter simply providing lots of extra comfort and time together until it passes or you may need a visit to a health professional.
9. Change locations: Sometimes being home doing the same things over and over can lead to a bit of boredom. Why not explore the park, try the swings, visit a farm to look at animals, or take a neighborhood stroll. The change of scenario can be beneficial to everyone!
10. Adjust your expectations: Sometimes the need to get the house cleaned, errands done, meals cooked etc has a way of working on us that translates into being rushed, anxious and possibly less than patient. Slow down, focus on your toddler and let the dishes sit for a while longer. You do not get a do-over with your toddler, the days of must have hour-long cuddles to prevent tears will eventually phase away.
Clinginess is not a sign you have spoiled your child or that they will never be independent. in fact most clingy toddlers when reassured, loved and cared for in this stage blossom into fearless, independent, resilient and happy preschoolers.
Peace & Be Well,