To say I walk on eggshells with my babies is an understatement. It’s all because my first baby was in so very much pain–and I didn’t know what to do about it. As a result, we kind of cling to each other. This is not how I want her to grow-up though. We’ve solved her pain-problem (a milk intolerance–who knew?!) and now we need to solve this clinginess problem. We’ve been working on it for about 6 months and I think I’ve done a pretty good job. This is my five-step plan for How to Get Your Toddler to be More Independent. It’s working pretty well, I think.
How to Get Your Toddler to be More Independent
For the first almost six months of her life, my little baby girl was clutched to my front, screaming her head off. So, I was a little scared to say anything or do anything that might throw her into another bout of painful screaming, even over a year later. Even now, with the pain gone, I watch over her, terribly concerned she’s going to get hurt. She doesn’t get far from me and gets very upset if I’m not right where she believes I should be. This clinginess must end. My five steps, they’re getting it done.
- Get out of the house and socialize that kid with other kiddos her age. This was a scary thing for me, because I’m such an introvert. I had to really work hard to get myself out of the house. Then, once I was there, I had to be her role model?! That sucked. But I did it and now I have a couple of friends–and so does my daughter.
- Find a reason to have someone else watch your kiddo. Just go to the grocery store without her while another mom watches her (trade-off sometime). If you can, get someone to watch her overnight (but do a few runs to the grocery store without her first). Start small and work your way up to being gone for a whole day. You’ll miss her and she’ll miss you, but it won’t be a tragedy.
- Tell your toddler to go play without you–and explain why. They’re smarter than their diminutive size would lead you to believe. Even at 2, my little girl understands waaay more than people give her credit for. So, I just told her: “you go play–this is a place for kiddos to play and mommies to watch.” She seemed puzzled for about 2 seconds before she got it and walked over to play with the other kids.
- Don’t interject during playtime. No really, unless someone is being harmed, just let the kids play. They’re kids, it’s what they do best. If your kiddo thinks they’re in trouble, they’ll stick to your skirts like dirt on Pig-Pen.
- Smile when they look back at you. Making eye contact and smiling lets her know you’re proud and that she’s doing the right thing. Even if you’re cringing inside, that little person is looking to you to say “keep going, kid, this independence thing is working”. Show them that it is.