Thursday, 31 January 2013

The clingy child

This morning a parent asked us what she could do about her child who was very clingy, crying and making a fuss when she tried to leave him. This is a very big concern for parents and often one that they don't share with others because they feel like they have done something to cause this behaviour. We were able to make some suggestions and will follow up on how these are working for mum and son.

The key is that this behaviour is common. Most children have periods where they are anxious about their parents leaving them or even being out of sight for a short while. The times your child becomes clingy can link with a developmental stage; times of change and transition; and surprisingly, with a child's push for independence. There is much written about children's attachments, there are theories on how and why children form attachments. The quote below comes from an excellent article from Janet Lansbury. Enjoy the full article on Janet's website and while you are there, explore any other topics of interest. 

It’s good to feel needed, but when we become parents, we realize we never knew “needy”.  As Magda Gerber aptly noted, parenting brings with it a “feeling of un-freeness”, whether we’re in the presence of our children or not.
Toward the end of the first year of life (when children become more aware of the separation between themselves and their parents) and periodically throughout the early years, we primary caregivers often become the sole object of our child’s desire. Clingy periods tend to coincide with children taking developmental steps toward independence (like learning to walk).  Sometimes they occur when children face new situations or transitions (for example, mom’s expecting). As understandable as this is, it’s still intensely stifling, frustrating and guilt-inducing when our lovable ball-and-chain can’t let us out of her sight for even a second.

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