The clingy phase is exhausting. Yes, it can consume all your energy, eat up all your time, and restrict you from being your usual self. But should you worry about your toddler’s clingy phase? How do you respond to such clinginess?
Baby Chingy Phase: Abnormal & Spoiled?
Some people consider clinginess as an abnormal development in a child’s life. Others even label clingy babies as spoiled brats. Let me argue against that. Clingy babies are definitely not abnormal nor spoiled. On the contrary, clingy babies are developing appropriately and healthily according to science.
Based on the study conducted by Alan Stroufe, an attachment researcher from the University of Minnesota, clinginess is a normal behavioral development for babies which can be traced back to the evolutionary phase of humans and primates. Since toddlers have not yet developed a sense of maturity and confidence, they need to cling on to their “secure base” which can either be the parent or the caregiver. This clinginess is a natural response to unpredictable and fearful situations for babies.
Why Could Your Child Be Clingy?
Do you even wonder why your child is exhibiting extreme clinginess such as never wanting to move away from you, instantly crying when you get out of her sight, or not accepting of other people’s care? Here are some of the reasons:
1.You are her comfort zone.
Parents are biologically and sociologically designed to be the safe zone for babies. If you will observe most mammals, baby animals would always cling on to their moms when preying on food or when exploring the wild. Evolutionary history of primates would also reveal that baby primates have always clung on to their parents when hunting for food.
You are simply your toddler’s comfort zone. You are the safest place where your child could feel confident.
2. She is scared of so many things.
It could be a scary phase to be a toddler. When the child is only starting to understand the things around her. It is a time of total uncertainty.
She can be scared of seeing a whole bunch of strangers in a restaurant. Or she can be scared of a stray cat along the street. She can feel creeping fear upon hearing a sudden beep of a car.
You must be there to console her – to give her certainty in a world that she hasn’t fully understood yet.
3. Your toddler could be growing really curious.
Studies have discovered that toddlers who are clingy usually have higher confidence in terms of exploring their surroundings. Welcome your child’s clinginess with positivity because that is a good sign that she wants to learn more about her environment and loves to get more information from this world.
Responding to Clinginess: Ignore or Validate?
Since science has already established that clinginess is a normal and heathy behavioral development for babies, then we shall never ignore their need for reassurance. Even Monica Oxford, Ph.D., of the University of Washington asserts that responding positively to clingy situations can improve the sleeping patterns of babies, prevent the development of undesirable behavior, and even reinforce the bond between parents and toddlers.
Therefore, you should validate your child’s emotional need for assurance by hugging, holding, or carrying her when she asks you to do so.
Is it Forever?
Definitely not! Your baby’s clinginess is only a phase that you could soon be missing. Your child won’t forever hold on tight to your arms when meeting other people. She won’t forever be wanting to be cradled. Soon, the clingy phase will go away and you will miss the moments when she would cry for your presence and ask for your soothing hugs.
For now, give her your love and a reassuring response to her clinginess.