How to deal with a clingy toddler

Don’t be taken aback if your once adventurous toddler starts wrapping herself around your legs like a baby anaconda and there are tears if you try to leave her. Here’s why your toddler’s being clingy and how to deal with it.

Do you feel like an intruder sneaking out of your own house every morning as you try to get away from your clingy toddler without having to unwrap her (suddenly very strong) arms from your legs and avoiding the 10-minute meltdown that’s bound to follow?

If you do, you’re most likely dealing with a clingy toddler. Rest assured – this is a normal part of your toddler’s development and usually occurs between the ages of 15 months and two years.

ALSO SEE: Dealing with separation anxiety.

Possible causes for a clingy toddler:

  • The arrival of a new baby could lead to your tot becoming clingy. She might feel that she’s not the centre of your attention anymore.
  • While your toddler enjoys exploring now that she’s more mobile, the new situations in which she finds herself can be overwhelming. This can trigger a fear mechanism that leads to clinginess.
  • Separation anxiety could also be behind your tot’s sudden clingy behaviour. Read more about it here.
  • Toddlers adapt to new experiences in their own way and time. If your little one suddenly becomes clingy after a new big adventure, it could be her way of telling you that she is not ready for new places or people without knowing you are close by.
  • This can be just a phase, where your toddler has anxieties normal for her age and needs to feel reassured by her parents.

3 tips to help you cope:

  • Show your child compassion and understanding. Remember her feelings and fear are real to her.
  • If you have to leave your child at daycare or with your nanny, give her a hug and ensure her that you will be back to see her later during the day. It’s important not to sneak away or to look back once you have said goodbye. Sneaking away will only cause more distrust and anxiety.
  • Pay attention to how your toddler reacts in a new environment respond appropriately. Be positive to make her feel comfortable.
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