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quite clingy, weepy, non-active toddler, am I doing something wrong?

(78 Posts)
mummylonglegs Sat 14-May-05 14:42:00

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choccychic Sat 14-May-05 20:45:43

Not exactly, but one of my three boys is much more reserved/shy than the other two and I still find (he is now 5) that he takes longer to form relationships with other children/adults. He is also the kindest, gentlest and most patient of the three! I managed to get him playing a couple of times a week with one child who I knew was also quite shy, before they both started pre-school and I think that it helped build his confidence that he had a 'friend' there. It wasn't totally plain sailing starting pre-school but not as bad as I thought it could be! Do you know any others the same age she could have round to play alongside with (they won't necessarily play together)? I hope someone with more experience comes along to help you, it must be a great worry when your child is upset by these situations.

ionesmum Sat 14-May-05 20:55:10

Hi, mll. I'd second the idea of getting a friend around to play for an hour or so, so your dd is on familiar territory. Then when she's happy with that, arrange to meet up with the friend somewhere. It's quite common for children not to want to interact at this age. A friend of mine's dd has a meltdown at our village toddler group, which is a bit hectic, but is very happy at the pre-school, which is more sedate. And remember, you don't have to send your dd to pre-school at all.

lalaa Sat 14-May-05 21:00:38

My dd is also 2 1/2. Between 8 months and 21 months, she was an absolutely nightmare socially. This stemmed, I think, from a bit of shy gene from me, and because I didn't take her to any big social situations with other children until she was 16 months. After 6 months of a fantastic cm working on it, she finally became confident in social settings.
I postponed her start at pre-school (she could have gone at 2) until last month, and this has definitely been a good plan, as she has totally settled in there really quickly - she even says 'Bye Mum' and walks in on her own when other children around her are screaming and clinging to their mums....
My advice would be perservere. If you can, try to take her to more and more social situations. Go to a toddlers group and see how she is there. Stay for ten minutes to start with if she hates it, and then go back again the next week and try to stay for longer. Engage her in something she finds interesting when you go (like play dough) and take a cuddly toy she finds a comfort with you. Also take a book or two she loves, and read those there with her on your lap.
You could also talk to the pre-school leader if you wanted to. They should have strategies for dealing with this. I also used a book 'My first day at nursery' for about 3 months before she went. By the time the day came, she could 'read' it to me! My dd also went to an Open Day there (which she didn't like much), and she accompanied an older child with my cm to drop him off at the nursery 2 or 3 times a week for months beforehand. So it was all quite familiar when the day came.
In a nutshell, the thing that has worked for me is to keep trying stuff; don't avoid it. And talk to her about it (that's obvious, I think). She might tell you what it is she doesn't like.
Finally (and sorry for wibbling on), don't blame yourself - some children are just like this and we're all just trying to do the best we can for them. You sound as though you love her very much otherwise you wouldn't be worried.
Good luck!

ionesmum Sat 14-May-05 21:06:50

Good advice, lalaa! What about trying something like ballet or toddler music groups? Our local ballet school does mums and toddler sessions for under-threes.

mummylonglegs Sat 14-May-05 21:33:58

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mummylonglegs Sat 14-May-05 21:37:51

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mummylonglegs Mon 16-May-05 10:27:53

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handlemecarefully Mon 16-May-05 10:31:45

A friend of mine has this kind of child (and he is lovely) - intimidated by social things with other kids. Would ask to go home etc - but in the last month or two he seems to have gained confidence in these situations. For instance, he used to be terrified of my dd (she isn't aggressive or anything like that) but is loud, boisterous and energetic, but now he actively enjoys playing with her and other kids.

His mum didn't do anything to effect this change, it just kind of happened. He is 2.11

Perhaps you could arrange play dates with one or two other toddlers. Not too many at one time?

handlemecarefully Mon 16-May-05 10:35:07

Re-read thread. Seems you already do this!

mummylonglegs Mon 16-May-05 10:36:20

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mummylonglegs Mon 16-May-05 14:42:04

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Marina Mon 16-May-05 14:50:57

mll, it must be very hard to have such an adorable sounding but also frustrating little girl...
It's not much help but a close friend has a ds who was very much like your dd at that age. He did actually stay that way for some time more and found his first couple of years at nursery then at school heavy going.
My friend, like you, feels there is a genetic factor here as she was also very shy as a child (and still is, although both she and her two children are lovely people who enhance any gathering).
The good news is he is growing out of it now. She did withdraw him from some especially upsetting social activities - the racket and rough and tumble of Gymteds reduced him to tears - but she also persevered with "quieter" social settings and chose playgroup for him rather than a nursery setting.
If you are where you think you are, why not avail yourself of the ££££ being poured into Sure Start initiatives, and see if there is some specialist advice going? Another Mner in a different part of inner London has had brilliant input from Sure Start people with a language development issue with her child.
Oh, and there is a Gymboree Children's Activity place in central Greenwich now which I think does music and art as well as boisterous bouncy things.
I don't think for one minute you have "over-protected" her, unless that definition includes ignoring your child's needs and preferences.

Marina Mon 16-May-05 14:51:58

Have you had her hearing carefully checked? Some otherwise NT children have heightened sensitivity to noise and places like playgrounds and soft-play areas sound super-alarming to them.

mummylonglegs Mon 16-May-05 15:04:45

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otto Mon 16-May-05 15:24:54

I was like that too mummylonglegs and still remember how mortified I felt when told I had to 'join in'. I don't think I was particularly clingy towards my mum, but I was always much happier if I was left to play alone. I don't think you ever grow out of it, but you do learn to deal with it as you get older. When she gets to school, or pre-school she may well find a friend with a similar personality which could help her to settle in.

Marina Mon 16-May-05 15:41:22

I have a colleague who says she was also ultra-shy as a child and it really taxed her parents (as it happens she was an only child).
She is not shy now...and has very happy memories of her childhood, much to her parents' surprise. They may not be suffering as much as they like to let you think, it seems...

mummylonglegs Mon 16-May-05 16:04:06

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ionesmum Mon 16-May-05 20:04:54

I have always been very shy, too, and am also an only child. I was happiest on my own or in a small group when I was little, and also hated rough and tumble games. I think these days teachers and activity leaders are more sensitive and don't pressure children to 'join in' if they don't want to. I grew more confident in my teens but still have my moments!

I agree with Marina, I most definitely do not think you have over-protected your dd, I think pushing the issue does more harm than good and I'm a big fan of not forcing a child to do anything before they are ready. Maybe you could do a kind of gradual withdrawl i.e. if she is sitting on your lap reading a book at toddler group, try sitting her on a chair beside you, or sit with her on the floor instead. I think on 'Child of our Time' there is a little boy who only has one special friend, and truly has no need for any more, and Robert Winston pointed out that some of us are just made that way.

I really do love the sound of your dd, she seems like such a sweetheart!

mummylonglegs Mon 16-May-05 20:53:25

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oliveoil Tue 17-May-05 09:17:02

I was going to start a thread on this myself today, how bizarre!

My little one is 2 and a half and is due to go to playgroup in the next few weeks. She is also quite shy, my MIL has her when I work so she hasn't been to nursery and we go to a mother and baby group on a Friday. She always sits on my knee for stories too. Sometimes she may wander off on her own but is always keeping an eye out for where I am.

No advice but I will be following this thread for my own .

PS - Not so sure on the shy gene theory, I can walk into a room full of strangers and not bat any eyelid so no idea where she gets it from.

Mojomummy Tue 17-May-05 10:17:43

Hi, getting her hearing checked is a great idea - Tracy Hogg aka The Baby Whisperer, suggests children fall into groups & perhaps your daughter is just one of the sensitive ones ?

My daughter ( 23 monhs) is similar & when I take her to play group, she takes a while to warm up..

Have you tried any homeopathic remedies ( for children) or Bach's Rescue Remedy ? you can drop a few drops in her mouth & you might find it just takes the edge off things for her. When she finds she can survive in situations her confidence will grow.....good luck & let us know how she gets on

mummylonglegs Tue 17-May-05 14:20:08

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otto Tue 17-May-05 14:22:26

Have you ever left her with anybody else? And if so, what happened when you were not around?

MizZan Tue 17-May-05 20:08:56

Hi - just my 2 cents, but my son was very similar and my advice would be, don't push it. It will just make you and your daughter more stressed, and in reality, there is probably nothing at all wrong. I was also concerned that my son was extremely clingy, not well able to interact with other kids, freaked out if another kid got on the slide etc. Tried to gently encourage him, but it often ended up just backfiring or at best, having no effect. He started growing out of it around 2 1/2 and now, at 3 1/2, is much better. He is still not the most outgoing child, and still won't participate in group singing, but he's well able to play with others and to enjoy his school activities in general.

We found pre-school helped a lot (he started at about 2 3/4). You may find it takes a longer settling-in period, but once established, the familiarity of the routine there can really make it easier. If you have any choice at all, your DD would probably cope much better with, as someone here said, a "sedate" pre-school environment (we do Montessori, which some people hate because it's strict, but it works well for us). My son still cannot deal when there are lots of screaming kids in a room, or in random free play situations. The structure of his pre-school has helped make him comfortable there on his own, as far as I can make out.

Hope this helps. Don't despair, just try not to over-think it all. I know how frustrated it can make you feel to be in this situation, believe me! But it's not anything you've done, nor is it likely to be anything you can really control - kids are just different. And she will definitely grow out of it, but not till she's good and ready

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