How to Deal with Clingy Toddlers Who Only Want Mom: 6 Steps
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Sometimes only Mom will do.

In a way, it's flattering that your child so clearly prefers your company. But you'd still like to be able to go to the bathroom without a toddler tagging along. Clingy behavior is absolutely normal for this developmental stage, and Dr. William Sears explains that as toddlers begin to explore the world, they can freak out about separating from Mom. Fortunately, there are ways to give your child a little independence and yourself a little space.


  1. 1
    Reassure your tot with a relaxed attitude and a big smile when the clingies hit. If you get upset or show anxiety, you may reinforce the clinginess. Dr. Sears explains that toddlers may interpret your anxiety as your agreement that there is a reason to cling. Instead, do everything you can to show your toddler that she's fine.
  2. 2
    Give your toddler a pep talk as he’s clinging. If the clinging is in response to a specific situation – a new environment or meeting new people – you might say something encouraging like “You’ll be fine. I’ll stand right here and you can go look at the toys.”
  3. 3
    Preview situations with your toddler. If you know you’re going to start a new playgroup or use a new babysitter, let your little one check things out first before going live. This can alleviate stress and fear of the unknown, which should cut down on clinging.
  4. 4
    Distract your toddler away from the clinginess. A cool toy or fun activity might be enough to unwind those arms from around your neck. Once your little one starts having fun, she may forget about that death grip.
  5. 5
    Remember that clinginess generally spans a specific age group. Most kids outgrow this overzealous attachment by age 3 and are ready to venture away from Mom to explore the world.
  6. 6
    Monitor your own well-being. Parenting a cling-on can be tough going, and some days you may reach the end of your rope. When you’re feeling frazzled, ask for help from your partner, family or friends. An hour away won’t kill your kid, and it can have a magical effect on your psyche.


  • Avoid common mistakes that can increase clingy behavior. Pushing your toddler too much to disengage can actually make matters worse. If you do need to go away from your toddler for a time, make sure you say goodbye and tell him when you’ll be back. Sneaking away will breed mistrust and could increase clingy behavior.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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