My 5-year-old son isn't needy. I've seen needy, and trust me: he's just not it. Yes, I had a high-risk pregnancy — one that flipped my entire life upside down — and my labor and delivery almost killed us, but he's been the most independent boy I could ever ask for. So independent, in fact, that I'm the needy one sometimes. Like, can't he just let me love him already? So, honestly, I feel confident saying there are things kids do that don't mean they're "needy," regardless of what people say. Just take my son, for example: he might do some so-called "needy" things, but he has never been the needy type. No, really. I swear.
Just today, in fact, I was allowed to dress in my room almost completely undisturbed, was able to enjoy several solo trips to the bathroom, and even ate my breakfast with minimal interruption (only, like, seven times did I really need to stop and tend to either one of my children). When I think of a "needy" kid, I don't see my sweet babies. They're angels who'd never think of clinging to me when I'm trying to work. They play great together, without arguing, and feel just fine embracing the world around them without me looking over their shoulders.
OK fine, so my kids do all those things. Here's the deal, though: that doesn't make them "needy," it just makes them kids. So not only is my youngest the opposite of spoiled or needy, he's in a category all his own. Here's some of the things my kid does (that yours might, too), that's totally, definitely not so-called "needy" behaviors. Let's just decide, once and for all, to let kids be kids. After all, before us parents know it they won't need us at all.
If my son were to ever grab a hold of my leg in this manner, I'd assume it's because he's playing a fun game where I'm the car and he's the passenger — not because he's needy. If anything, it's a super creative way to get from one place to another. Plus, I get a great leg workout this way.
If I hear adorable demands for my time in order for my son to play with this "castle guy toys," it's because he needs an additional player to guard the tower. It's not needy, you guys. It's just necessary.
Both my kids enjoy their alone time, but that doesn't mean my son doesn't want mom around all the time. I can't blame him, though: as a stay-at-home mom who works from home, I'm all he knows. It's less about him being needy, and more about him being a normal kid who thrives on a set schedule and/or routine. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) claims all children benefit from a routine.
Alright, so my son isn't always considerate of my time. Then again, he's a child, so the entire concept of time and how it is, truly, a commodity, is lost on him. And rightfully so. I work hard to make him feel as though time is nothing more than an abstract. So, yes, I have spent some time straddling the door, halfway between the outside world and my life inside as mom. But when he doesn't want me to go, I know it's because I've been doing a kick ass job when I'm at home.
There have been more than a few times when I have dropped my son off at school, or take him to a birthday party, only to have him cling to me the entire time. I have never considered this a needy behavior, though. In fact, if anything it made me stop to think about how my son is feeling surrounded by a bunch of people; even people he knows. In fact, I even stopped to research the signs of anxiety in children, just to make sure my son wasn't trying to tell me something. KidsHealth.org, however, says that parents should look for signs of irritability, trouble concentrating, restlessness or fatigue during waking hours, trouble sleeping at night or sleepiness during the day, and excessive worry most days of the week, for weeks on end, as signs of a potential anxiety disorder in a child.
My son wanting to hang by mom when we're in big groups? That's just him knowing that I will always be there for him when he feels uncomfortable. I can be his security blanket, and eventually he won't need that blanket anymore. Plus, if he prefers to remain at my side, it's probably because I'm just so awesome. Can you blame him?
I don't think it's a "needy" behavior for a child to want to be held by their mother. Not with my kids, at least. If my son won't let me set him down — say, if I were out of breath and really struggling to hold him — it means he's tired or cranky or needs comfort. in fact, Tiffany Field, Ph.D. and the director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, told Parenting.com that, "When you hold your child, you stimulate pressure receptors that help his body relax."
Wanting to be held isn't neediness, you guys. It's science.
My partner and I have a great relationship and we hug a lot. I'm also the go-to parent (since I'm at home working while my partner works outside the home) so I'm my son's "person." Go on almost any online parenting forum and you'll find parents complaining about their children's aversion to their mutual and consensual affection towards their partners. While annoying, this possessiveness is actually very normal, especially in toddlers. Parent educator Judy Arnall, author of Discipline Without Distress, told Today's Parent, "This is a stage, a completely normal and healthy one. But it can also be annoying for parents, who worry that they need to nip possessive behavior in the bud, before it develops into unmitigated selfishness." Today's Parent goes on to say, "For a toddler, possession is everything; having an object in his hands means it’s his. Likewise, if someone dares to pick up his blanket, it may no longer be his — pretty scary for a 2-year-old."
In other words, it's normal, you guys. Your kid just loves you, and only knows how to express that love by being a little annoyingly possessive from time to time.
I think this is just par for the parenting course, you guys. Like, this is life now.
Plus, following you into the bathroom is one way your toddler may learn how to use the toilet themselves. Something of a "monkey see, monkey do" situation.
My kid just loves doing things with his momma (read: me). Staying by my side, no matter what I'm doing, isn't neediness. It's him telling me in his very own, 5-year-old way, that he can't imagine his life without me.
For now, I'm OK with it.