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Question
Posted by: janeybug | 2007/10/15

CLINGY toddler

Hi Doc,

My daughter is driving me N-U-T-S...

She is 29 months old and clingy like hell. I stay at home with her so its not like shes craving for mommy attention. I can't even make a cuppa coffee without her whining to be picked up and practically pulling my pants off in her attempts to climb up me (in fact she HAS succeeded in pulling my pants off a number of times. My tops too.). I play with her a lot but even when we're playing she MUST sit on my lap. there's just no break- I cant pee without her trying to sit ON top of me. when we go for play dates or out shopping she doesn't run off and play with her friends or explore (like all the other kids), she sticks to me like glue which results in me feeling frustrated because I can't enjoy myself if I'm lugging her about.

It's driving me crazy because I feel like i'm being abused- all this tugging and pulling at me all the time. Why is she doing this> She's been like this since birth. There's just NO time when she's not whining for my attention. Why can't she go off and play with her peers? Even at home, she insists on dragging me along- she won't go to her play room and play alone. She won't even go into the garden without dragging me along (if it's not me its nanny or daddy).

We have a normal family life, a successful marriage with no fighting or anything. She is an only child in a happy household, so I really can't understand why she CLINGS to me like this...

I do not give in- she is not spoiled. I often say NO I can't pick you up, Mummy's busy, but she continues to whine and tug at me.

She's a good child, and goes to bed when told to (in her own room); she can feed herself and undress by herself. She can clean her teeth unaided etc, so she IS capable of doing things by herself, it's almost as though she lacks the confidence to leave me or nanny or daddy?

I want to learn how to STOP this behaviour, because it's become easier for me NOT to go out because I just cannot enjoy myself because she's always AT me. How do I stop this behaviour, without her feeling like I'm rejecting her? I don't want her to feel I'm shoving her away all the time, but for goodness's sakes, I simply can't live being pulled at, and tugged at and whined at. I can't even boil the kettle without her tugging at me!

Why won't she let me walk away or do anything by herself? Is it a personality trait (my mom said I was much the same, but I had 2 siblings to drag around with me); or is it a social problem? Is she worried that I'll leave her and start working again? Is she scared of going it alone?

I am genuinely scared that she'll have social problems if she cannot start being more independent. She's very intelligent with a fairly good grasp on language, and she's a lovely amiable child, but WHY the clinginess!!??

My friends suggested I seek advice from a child psychologist- on how for me to deal with it. I don't know WHY she's clingy (not illness or anything that I can tell- and she's been like this her entire life); but I do know what I NEED to stop this or I'll lose my mind. I cannot afford a psych just now, but if you agree, I shall make a plan and find the money.

I used to work full time (and even after hours) but my daughter got very ill, cathcing bugs from other kids at school. It got to the stage where the paed said to take her out of school- her health was suffering that much. So we did. I quit my job and started being full time mommy. I have been at home with her now for more than 2 months. Apart from this clinginess, she is fine in all respects.

I sometimes feel that she thinks that I have become "her property". That I belong to her and now I must only do what she says and wants. A friend suggested that my daughter feels I am her only playmate? We have playdates and social activities most days of the week, so she's not short of peers?

I cannot see this as normal behaviour because we have a large circle of friends with kids the same age; and those kids are all confident to leave mom and dad and play with each other or by themselves. Not my daughter though. If she wants to explore, she insists on holding my hand, saying "come!" and practically dragging me there. What do I do? I can't even tell you how many times I've said, No you go by yourself, I'll watch you. That kind of thing. She starts whining and tugging at me (this really bothers me- I can handle her whining; I just tune out, butt he constant pulling and tugging makes me feel abused). She'll even throw a tantrum if I don't go with her. I let her have the tantrum, but then when it's done, she still will NOT go alone. She'll continue sitting on my lap or tugging to be picked up. She will refuse to do the thing she wanted me to do with her (like jumping on the jumping castle, or playing in the sand, etc), she'd rather sit with me and be miserable because she wanted to play there and now she can't because I won't go with her. After doing this countless numbers of times, I reckon she'd wise up and start doing things alone, but not so. She simply will not do it alone.

If I'm out, she's with nanny, and she clings like mad to nanny. Same with daddy or granny. It seems she clings to whoever is available and refuses to do it ALONE. Even when she was at scholl, I'd pitch up unannounced to check up on them, or to fetch her to take her home, she'd be on the teacher's lap. It seems like she depends on being clingy on somebody?

Please could you help!

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