My youngest child was a momma’s girl. She needed to be near me. Even as a teenager being clingy was a part of who she was. She would often come and grab onto me and hold on needing to be held. When she was young, I was concerned that she had emotional problems. But after prayer and talking to some trusted mentors, I realized her temperament just required more physical contact than my older children. I was able to help her when I understood the needs behind the clinginess.
Here are 4 reasons why a child is clingy.
1. Touch Need
According to Gary Chapman’s Book The Five Love Languages, my daughter’s number one love language is touch. She often chose the most inopportune time to make her need known. Many times, as I was cooking dinner, she would hang on me. I was scurrying around the kitchen trying to put the meal together but she needed five minutes of my time. So, I would turn off the stove and stand in the middle of the kitchen just holding her. Then she would go off and do something else, completely at ease. I discovered that if I just stopped for five minutes and held her, without any other demands calling to me, she would walk away and say, “I love you, Mommy”. She still does that today as an independent married woman in college. She will interrupt whatever we’re doing to just take a five-minute hug.
Some kids are just more sensitive to new situations than others. By being patient and giving reassurance most will adjust. I knew my daughter needed to have interactions with others and get used to being away from me in order to become a confident woman one day. I was a stay at home mom, and I was her only connection all day while her sisters were at school. So, I enrolled her in preschool and it was the best thing I could have done. She was really nervous at first but I reassured her of her own ability to make new friends. She made a life-long friend at the age of four that is still her friend today.
3. Unpredictable Schedule
Kids really need routine and an non-harried home life. Predictable schedules help sensitive kids feel secure. When life is filled with stress and is rushed, a young child can feel insecure and afraid. Accomplishing less in a day and having a peace-filled environment helps them feel peace themselves. Some kids can pick up the emotions and atmosphere of the people in the home. They may take those emotions on as their own. It’s important to teach children that what someone else feels belongs to that person and how to separate themselves from what they are picking up. When my daughter would get clingy, it was an opportunity for me to monitor my own stress level and take a moment together to get to a place of peace.
She is five years younger than her two older siblings. They were fourteen months apart and had each other for entertainment. My youngest was too young to participate with them. And when they were at school she was alone with me. I saw that when she was bored she would come and cling to my legs as entertainment. When I was convinced that there wasn’t another need involved at the moment, I gave her things to do. She also needed interaction with other kids. I invited other kids her age over to play and found some activities for her to enjoy to relieve the boredom.
Tell us! How do you deal with clingy children?