If you’re having trouble with a clingy toddler, join the club. This phase seemed to come out of the blue for us and although it’s getting better, we still have some days that are challenging.
It can make you feel extremely guilty when your child is desperate not to be separated from you, but it helps to remember that it’s just a stage.
Here are seven tips to make things easier when your child is clinging on to you like a little koala.
- Give them a heads-up instead of telling them last minute what your plans are. Regularly remind them during the week about what they’re doing next, later and the next day. For example, "Tomorrow is Monday, so you have pre-school! Or, "No school today, but you’re going to soccer this afternoon!"
- Make your goodbyes quick and easy and reassure them you’ll see them soon. I remember watching 'Supernanny' years ago and her showing that, in fact, it’s often the parent that makes goodbyes difficult. If we’re too emotional when we hug our kids goodbye, they’ll automatically get upset too. We, therefore, make a conscious effort to keep things light and breezy and not too dramatic, so my toddler understands it’s not a big deal.
- However, sneaking out isn’t a good option. Although you might think it’ll be easier if you disappear without them noticing, this will leave them upset and confused. We experienced this first-hand when my toddler was being particularly clingy with my husband. A couple of times we thought it would be easier not to disturb my son and for my husband to leave unnoticed. But when he realised his Dad had disappeared, he had a meltdown. Now we always do a quick goodbye and explain where he’s going and when he’ll be back, so my youngest feels reassured that he’s being kept in the loop.
- Show your toddler how normal it is for everyone to go off and do their own thing every day. By discussing the fact that his older brother goes off to school first in the morning and then it’s his turn, it’s helped him get his head around it. We also remind him that everyone will be home and together again every evening.
- Two might feel like a young age to be encouraging them to be independent, but the more self-reliant they are, the less they’ll rely so heavily on you. There are lots of simple tasks they can help with around the house and they’ll feel proud once they’ve completed them. In addition, once they can get ready to go out themselves by putting on their own coat and shoes, they’ll feel more in control.
- Routine is key. Unfortunately, because of lots of bugs and viruses during the winter, we went through a stage of my toddler having lots of sick days. This meant that he got confused with his routine and wasn’t used to regularly having a full week of pre-school. Now it’s springtime there’s less sickness around (touch wood) and so he’s much more used to going in for five days. The tip here is to simply bear with it, things do get easier once their routine is more established.
- Enjoy the extra cuddles instead of getting annoyed by them. Although the clingy toddlers stage can feel suffocating at times, it won’t last forever. No doubt the minute they start enjoying their own space, we’ll be wishing that they were more affectionate again!