You have a young toddler and you're loving watching her grow and become more independent. Brace yourself. It's common for toddlers -- even babies -- to become clingy, and in your arms -- or wrapped around your legs -- is the only place she's going to want to be. The good news is clinginess is just a stage.
1. When to Expect It
Most children reach the clingy phase around the age of between 9 months to 2 years of age, according to BBC Health. However, it's not uncommon for a child as young as 6 months of age to exhibit clinginess, says Women and Children's Health Network, and for the stage to last well into the fourth year.
2. Separation Anxiety
Children who are clingy are likely suffering from separation anxiety, explains BBC Health. Learning how to stand and walk is exciting for your child, but he's beginning to realize all that independence is taking him away from you. You may see a resurgence of neediness as he tries to recapture the safety and comfort of having everything taken care of for him in the warm cocoon of your arms.
3. Attempting to Reconnect
Toddlers who don't want to let their parents go may also be trying to reconnect. If you've been away at work, your 2 year old may be excessively affectionate and clingy when you return in an attempt to restore that bond between you. Plus, he may realize his world is peopled with an awful lot of knees while he's walking on his own; he may want to be in your arms so he can look into people's faces the way you do.
4. What You Can Do
It's important to reassure your child that your physical affection and protection aren't going anywhere just because she's getting more independent, while at the same time not encouraging clingy behavior. Distract your child. Make her an integral part of your chores and activities. If she wants to be held constantly while shopping, let her help find the groceries. If she doesn't want to walk, turn it into a game. Challenge her to jump on all the seams in the linoleum. Don't forget to get to eye-level with her once in a while just to let her know you understand the world she sees is different from the one you see. Let her hang out in the kitchen while you cook. By offering your support without coddling, you're giving her the strength to grow up.
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