Every toddler goes through a stage, at some point, in which she wants to be picked up all the time. She wants to be carried up the stairs, into day care, and even wants to hang on to you while you're going to the bathroom. The good news about clingy toddlers is that your child really likes you! The bad news is that you can't seem to put her down, even for a moment. Here are some strategies I use for encouraging my own toddler to be more independent.
1. Parallel Work/Play
You need to cook dinner, and you can't do it with one hand. If your child wants to be held when you need to chop, wash, and marinate, then ask him if he will help. One reason toddlers are clingy is that they want to be included, and the kitchen is a great place to start.
My son has a play kitchen, complete with oven, refrigerator, and even a telephone. When I'm preparing dinner, I ask him to "make me a pizza" or "wash some vegetables." He loves this sense of helping, even if it is parallel to what I'm doing. And it frees up both of my hands to actually cook.
2. Helping and Participating
If your toddler is old enough to do a real task in the kitchen, by all means, let her! Can she take the tops off of cherry tomatoes and put them in a pot, or spin the lettuce dry in the salad spinner? My son loves these activities, and they are actually helpful, as opposed to merely distracting. I also sometimes ask him to look for certain things I'll need in the refrigerator: "Olin, can you help Mama find the zucchini?" He loves to independently get me something I need to make our dinner, and then (of course) he wants to help me chop, which can be another can of worms!
In the bedroom, let your toddler work on putting a freshly laundered pillowcase on a pillow. It might take awhile, but it's a lot like putting on a sock, and practicing helps develop motor skills. My son also helps me "take out the trash" by dumping the contents of the little bathroom trashcan into the big kitchen trashcan. And he helps sort laundry by colors — even if this is something I wouldn't do myself, it keeps him occupied so that I can fold around him.
3. Reasoning with Your Toddler
I realize that reason is not most toddlers' strong suit, and it's never going to be the way to win most battles with a two-year-old. However, I've had a lot of success getting my two-and-a-half year-old son to cooperate when I explain to him why I'm asking him to do something.
For example, sometimes I get up in the morning, and he wants to go to the bathroom with me. (By then, he's already crawled into our bed and gotten warm and cozy.) I ask him to stay in bed with my spouse, and he instinctively resists. But when I tell him that I like to go to the bathroom by myself — just like he does — he often accepts this answer and settles back in bed to wait for me. I don't have a huge number of "reasoning with toddlers" success stories, but this is one I'm proud of, as I think it bodes well for the future.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.