Development FAQ: 24+ months – Learning

My two-and-a-half-year-old son is very clingy.

My two-and-a-half-year-old son is very clingy. I work at home and he’ll cry and protest when I try and go to my office. Five minutes later he is perfectly happy with the nanny, but I find these scenes distressing. He doesn’t like to leave me when we go to friends’ houses and I don’t like to force him to mix with other children if he doesn’t want to. I’m dreading when he starts nursery school. I’m also now expecting a second baby, and I’m sure we’re going to face more problems when the baby arrives. Is this kind of behaviour normal in a toddler? I feel very guilty about his neediness. Is there anything I can do?

I do think many children go through a clingy stage at this age when they just needs lots of love and reassurance ? and you’re right, your son should not be forced to do something he doesn’t want to. Working from home does make it harder for the toddler to understand why he can’t be with you, but as he is perfectly happy after a short while, it is worth persisting with lots of gentle reassurance that you will be back later.

As there is a new baby on the way, I would advise that you try and help your son to become more independent now, before the baby gets here, so that he does not associate the baby with being abandoned. A good idea for sensitive little souls who don’t rush to mix with other children is to arrange smaller play dates, with only one or two other mothers and children. The adults can join in with the play, instead of just watching them. Another way is to concentrate on getting him to play with you first, doing lots of role play games with teddies and dolls. Once he is happy to play alongside you in a group situation, his confidence will increase and he will become less clingy as you gradually withdraw your presence.

Finally, please, please do not feel guilty about working. Your son will not be damaged by having a working mother. In my experience the only damaging thing about working mothers is the unnecessary guilt they feel.