How can I deal with a clingy child?

Dr. Heather Wittenberg, PhD
Psychology Specialist

It is important to encourage your child to play by herself now and then, and this will stretch into longer periods of time of “self-directed activity,” which will be really important once she starts school.

You can try starting really small—while you’re together, and she is feeling good and really engaged in some kind of play, say something like, “Oops! I have to … ” (turn on the dishwasher, grab a glass of water, etc.). Then leave the room, for like two seconds. Then make a grand re-entrance. “See? Here I am. I just turned on the dishwasher and now I’m back with you.” Then re-engage in play with her. Slowly stretch out these mini-interludes so that she slowly but surely gets used to you being gone for bits at a time.

When she makes a leap (and you’re finally able to go pee by yourself … what a concept!), make a big deal out of how grown up she is for waiting nicely while Mommy pees, and how helpful it is to Mommy that she can wait for a few minutes, and now … let’s play together some more! So you’re using the time together as a reward for her being patient for a few minutes.

Dr. Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine Specialist

Realize that it's perfectly normal. As much as you may be totally embarrassed when your kid cries and superglues himself to your leg, remember that the other parents aren't judging you. They're secretly happy it isn't their kid this time.

Be patient. Luckily, the cling fest is usually short-lived. If you yell at your child or push him away this will only make things worse because he'll feel even less secure.

Dr. Sharon Ramey knows about child behavior and gives advice on how to stop overly-clingy behavior in this video from Discovery Health.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.