How to deal with a clingy child

Parent 2 Parent... is your child especially clingy?

I remember the days. Maybe it's holding onto mom's leg, afraid to go into his or her classroom, or just overly anxious about things. Here are five strategies a pediatrician shared with me, to help you and your child, through this phase.

First, all that "clinginess" is a natural reaction to feeling fearful or anxious about something. Don't ignore it or punish your child for it. Consider it a compliment they feel this comfortable with you. If you ignore them or push them away, they may stop coming to you when they are scared about things.

Be responsive to these feelings. Identify with your child what's causing the clinginess, and talk about it with them, so they feel heard and understood. It will also help if you increase predictability.

Have a routine that's as concrete as possible, and share it with them so they start to get a sense of time. Maybe use pictures to show what the weekly and/or daily schedule will look like. This will reduce anxiety by bringing a sense of structure to their day.

It's true that your children will build self-confidence through mastering new tasks, so, praise independence. Whether that's setting the table, cooking, or cleaning up toys. Help them feel confident in their abilities.

Finally, don't sneak out when you leave them, with a babysitter, at school, etc. When it's time to say "goodbye," say it. Be brief and don't overreact if your child gets upset. That will feed into the anxiety. Sneaking out may cause them to be afraid to get involved in any activity, because mom or dad could disappear at any moment.

Remember, for better or worse, this is just a phase. Your kids will want plenty of independence soon enough, and you'll be begging for a lingering hug!

You can always ask Natali your parenting questions by going to her Facebook page. Like it, and leave your parenting question for her. She'll work to get you expert advice.