Dealing with a Clingy Baby
Written on : 8th January, 2010
QUESTION: Assalamu Alaiykum. So my son is really clingy, he doesn’t give me a chance at all, no joke, if I sit , he cries, if I am up , he’s not crying…what to do!!??? its really frustrating. I am up writing this email at half 3 in the morning because he’s awake! huh…[Exhausted Mummy, (Friday, 08th January, 2010 3:25 AM)]
There are many tips I can offer you for a clingy baby. I will also offer you some long-term ideas as to how you can prevent any future problems you may encounter, which are all consistent with clingy toddlers:-
1) Be positive & suggestive in your speech rather than ‘frustrated’ and ‘negative’. The more you ‘quarrel’ and emit those ‘frustrated’ vibes, the more he’s going to pick up on them and act accordingly. Especially at an age where he really wouldn’t know better, and doesn’t really understand consequences and ‘good manners’. So essentially, when he cries for you to pick him up, sit next to him when he cries instead and sing ‘Pat-a –cake’ or some nursery rhyme he likes. Or maybe ask him to give you a ‘high five’ and change the topic to something positive. Lighten his mood Inshaa Allah. Show him that he doesn’t have to cry all the time just to get your attention.
2) You need to get this kid a hobby Inshaa Allah – This was a major factor that broke my baby out of this clingy habit. They spend so much time crying for you that they don’t spend enough time playing and exploring their ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’. I have many “Fun Ideas” on the website that you can try with him to help him explore these needs. Some other ideas are : jumbo Lagos, Play Dough, Moon sand (a little expensive), Colouring, wooden blocks, simple computer games, Books with sound buttons (not music; just like nature sounds, etc), little outdoor blow-up pool, etc… Giving your child a hobby will help with his independence. Be patient though and don’t give up, because this hobby may or may not take time to reveal itself. But when you do find this hobby for him, you’ll never regret it Inshaa Allah.
3) Give him his own chair – Instead of always lifting him up or putting him on your lap, put him on a chair next to you Inshaa Allah. Keep your arm around him the first few times to maintain that physical contact he seems to need so much. When he gets accustomed to the ‘chair next to mummy’ slowly stop putting your arm around him and see how he does sitting there on his own. BUT be sure to give him huggs and cuddles throughout the day spontaneously without him having to ask for it. This is to ensure you maintain and nurture that bond with him in a natural and healthy way. Just try to get that upper-hand back before the ‘tantrum years begin (This is usually around 2 years of age Inshaa Allah; especially for clingy babies).
4) “Nip Tantrums in the bud”– If and when the tantrums begin, and this may not even happen, simply turn away from him the second he tries to scream and lie down on the floor screaming for something he wants. You MUST do this from the very beginning before he gets the hang of it. It’s not really about ignoring or neglecting him, it’s more like ‘pretending your aren’t hearing him when he screams’. As soon as he quiets down and looks confused by you not paying attention to him, look at him quickly and with a BIG smile say “Hi Baby!!! Whatcha’ doing baby??” Make it clear to him that you do not respond to screaming and change the mood to a happy one when he quiets down Inshaa Allah.
*Azizah’s NOTES TO REMEMBER THROUGHOUT PARENTHOOD:-
1) Babies and children are instinctive creatures who can SMELL fear! Therefore do not lose your upper hand and control over them at such an important and tender age in their lives. The habits you learn at that age tend to follow you throughout your life. “It is very hard to make a rotten egg fresh again. You may be able to contain the odour and maybe even manipulate the appearance, but a rotten egg is still a rotten egg. Once they are spoilt, there is almost no turning back.” Children who have ‘wrapped their parents around their little finger’ will continue to feed off of this weakness.
2) Children are smarter than we think – They will know, just by your facial expression, whether or not their behaviour has won you over. Thus, you must show them, by your own behaviour and facial expressions, that their ‘inappropriate behaviour’ does not and will not affect you in the way that they want it to.
3) Lead by example- If you openly and clearly project something to be exciting and good, odds are that they will find it good and exciting too! It all comes down to the general idea that ‘Children will believe whatever you want them to believe”. But this all depends on you and how you approach different situations.
“Sisters, tell me how it all works out Insha Allah!!!”
…Comments from My Readers…
*”One thing I love about him though is that whenever we go to the masjid/ anywhere else, he is very well-behaved, while all other children are running about etc, he is just sitting beside me being very quiet and well-behaved, and everyone says ,”oh he is so well-behaved!”, and I would say ,” oh, wait till you see him home!” and no one believes he gives so much trouble at home. Do you think he’s trying to get payback for being so good???? lol…BaraakAllahu feeki…and and thank you a lot Azizah, May Allah bless you and your family!
[Exhausted Mummy, (Friday, 08th January, 2010 3:34 PM)]
*”This is very solid advice Azizah. Allow me to add a few things that I believe are relevant: a tantrum is an extreme behaviour, an outburst of anger or emotion which parents have to learn to be firm about, and not give in to the tantrum OR to embarrassment…..but it is unwise to overreact by BEATING the child either as we are talking about toddlers here, now learning about the power of their own emotions. Also a small infant, unlike an older toddler, does not have tantrums. When they cry they have a need and as parents our role is to fulfil that need. When infants are given a lot of love, affection and attention and efforts are made to get to “know and understand” the infant’s communication and needs on an individual basis, the stage is set for the development of an independent and emotionallysecure child. As Azizah mentioned so accurately: children pick up on our weaknesses and once we communicate frustration, impatience or disinterest on a regular basis because they don’t feel secure they are likely to either be clingy or to fail to develop trust and a strong sense of self esteem.
[Dr. Amanda Gabrielle Jones, (Saturday 9th January, 2010 11:52pm)]