bjginny/Fotolia

PSA: No, These 8 Things Won’t *Actually* Make Your Kid Clingy

By
Share
Ad failed to load

There have been plenty of times when one, or both, of my kids have been "clingy." Usually it's when they're learning a new skill, in a new place, and are feeling incredibly self-conscious. For the most part my kids aren't "clingy" for too long, and as they've grown more and more independent they've relied on me less and less for comfort and security. I've also learned that there are more than a few things that won't actually make your kid clingy, too, and that knowledge has helped me feel more capable of parenting my children in a way that benefits them and their unique needs.

I am confident enough to admit that I used to be an unapologetic "helicopter mom." So trust me when I say that my kids had all the opportunity in the world to become the clingiest kids to ever cling. But they didn't. If anything, the way I chose to raise my children has contributed to their consistent need for independence. Because here's the thing: children require a lot of things. Yes, boundaries are important, but so is being there for your kids so they can have the comfort, love, affection, security, and safety they need in order to feel safe enough to venture out into their new, ever-expanding worlds. I'm not creating cling-on monsters if I am there for my children. I'm preparing them to handle the world, and all that it entails, when I'm not.

Fostering a sense of independence, and allowing your children the space and room to grow and learn on their own, is important. But so is being their port in the storm. So with that in mind, here's everything you can give, unconditionally, to your kids that doesn't contribute to how clingy they may, or may not, be:

Ad failed to load

Paying Attention To Them

Giphy

There's an old wive's tale that suggests giving your kids too much attention will spoil them. Yeah, that's not true.

In fact, research supports the opposite ideology, especially when your child is still experiencing their baby and toddler years. A study by Alan Stroufe via the University of Minnesota found that in ignoring your child's needs can actually contribute to clinginess, not prevent it. Of all the times I paid attention to my kids, it didn't make them cling to me, but it did help them gain the confidence they need to go out into the world.

Showing A Lot Of Affection

If you have a baby, there's no such thing as "too much affection." Newborns need a lot of it, actually, so the sky is literally the limit. So if you're a new parent and you'er worried that giving your kid too many hugs or cuddles or kisses might stunt their independence, worry no more. I hug my kids more times than I can count in a day, and they're independent beings.

You shouldn't use your affection in ways that manipulate your baby's dependence on you for their basic needs (food, love, comfort), but Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and best-selling author of over 30 parenting books, told Parenting that, "babies who seem the most dependent early on often turn out to be the most securely independent as they get older." Dr. Spears goes on to add that dependency is a natural stage of development, because it helps babies "form lasting relationships as adults." You're their foundation. If they trust you'll love them, it's be easier for your children to eventually form relationships with others. Basically, don't withhold affection fear of feeding their clinginess.

Being There For Them When They Need You

Giphy

Again, to echo Dr. Sears' advice, being the one your kid runs to isn't a bad thing. The technique called "attachment parenting" (coined by Dr. Sears) is the idea of utilizing the instinctual approach of bonding with baby by "attaching" mom and baby through continuous empathy, closeness, and touch.

There's no better way for your little one to create lasting future relationships with others, than by witnessing how you've done the same for and with them.

Ad failed to load

Co-Sleeping

James McKenna, professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, tells The Bump that, "sharing your room with baby is said to help her senses develop. Babies need to learn to respond to the sensory signals of others, including smells, movements, sounds, touches and heat."

In other words, co-sleeping won't make your kid clingy. It might help them build a relationship with you, and develop "sensory distinctions," but it won't make them co-dependent people when they're older.

Holding Them When They Want To Be Held

Giphy

When your child is living that baby life, feel free to hold them as much as you can. It's not going to make them any clingier or needier, but it should help them establish a level of trust between the two of you. Your baby will know that they can rely on you for comfort, and that knowledge is an important and necessary building block in their development.

Baby Wearing International promotes being close to your baby and holding them often, through the use of baby-wearing products. The organization goes on to say all that closeness leads to less crying and happier, healthier babies.

I've always picked up my kids when they asked, not to "spoil" them but because there was something they needed from me — usually comfort or guidance. Wanting to be picked up is usually a sign of an internal sense of insecurity regarding the world around them. So, unless you're creating the anxiety within them by preemptively picking them up for no reason, hold that babe of yours often.

Extended Breastfeeding

According to BabyCenter, extended breastfeeding may actually help a child foster a sense of independence, instead of co-dependence:

"As your child becomes more self-reliant, breastfeeding can be an important source of reassurance and emotional support. The strong connection your child feels with you while nursing will foster independence, not make him overly dependent or clingy, as some may have you believe."

In fact, Kathleen Huggins, author of The Nursing Mother's Companion, tells BabyCenter that "forcing a child to stop nursing before he's developmentally ready won't necessarily create a more confident child – it could even make him more clingy."

Ad failed to load

Staying When You Should Go

Giphy

If you have the chance to go out, but as the time approaches your kid wants you to stay behind, it's OK. It might seem like giving in to their whines and cries will make them clingy, but it could actually promote more independence.

Jude Cassidy, a psychologist and attachment expert at the University of Maryland, tells Slate that your child wants to know you're their "secure base." When they know you're there for them, it's that much easier for them to explore their surroundings and relationships with others. If you were to consistently leave without acknowledging their separation anxiety, or the reasons behind it, they might be more likely to have problems with independence and attachment.

Feeling Attached

Giphy

The bottom line? Feeling attached to your kid, and vice versa, isn't a bad thing or indicitive of a potential co-dependent relationship in the future. If you want to build trust, be there for your kid early and often. It sounds counter-intuitive, but to prevent clinginess, be your kids' go-to port in the storm from day one.

Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}