Jan. 25, 2021

Ask Amy: When Your Kid is Super-Clingy

A parent asks for advice on dealing with a clingy 9-year-old. Amy suggests rewarding small shows of independence with praise, and offering quality time during your child’s preferred activity in return for accepting some time apart without complaint.

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This week's parenting question comes from a listener in our Facebook group:

I have a clingy 9-year-old. I love her more than life itself, but I am having a hard time with feeling totally smothered. I go for a walk every morning for about 30 minutes (for sanity) and every morning she asks, "How long will you be gone? 30 minutes? Can I come? Pleeease?"

I stress the importance of alone time for me and that it makes me a better mama. She watches for me out the window. It's like having a puppy. Yes, it's anxiety related. I had anxiety as a kid and I recognize it, but we are together 24 hours a day and I feel like I'm starting to crack.

You're right to suspect that your super-clingy kid is motivated by anxiety. We can meet anxiety with empathy, but we need to beware accommodating it. Don't let those goalposts get moved: a half-hour walk is definitely good, both for your parental sanity and for your kid's realizing she can survive 30 minutes without you.

Amy offers a few suggestions that worked with her own clingy kid:

  • "catch her" being independent and offer praise, rather than provide negative attention for the clinginess
  • offer quality time doing her preferred activity when she doesn't complain about your alone time earlier in the day
  • create "special time" for this child and another adult during which No Mommies Are Allowed
  • get your child a pet (a big ask, for sure, but for kids who are physically clingy, something cuddly can be an effective Mom substitute)

There are more great suggestions in this Very Well Family article by therapist Amy Morin:


Send us your parenting questions- we might answer yours next: questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com.

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