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Clingy 3 yr old - advice needed

(12 Posts)
Mithered Fri 03-Jul-09 08:54:27

I post sometimes on mental health threads as been suffering from depression but coming out the other side hopefully

My 3.2yr old DS is very clingy and always has been. I also have a 14 month old DD.
DS has always cried when I leave him - started at nursery at 9 months when went back to work. After DD born he kept going to nursery and had settled back down for a while but since I have gone back to work this time he has got worse.

He cries if left with DH (although DH is pretty rubbish with kids TBH) He is waking up at 5am and first thing he asks if mummy is going to work. If I say yes he starts crying. I am kind but firm I think. Give him a cuddle, explain what is happening for the day ie who is dropping him off and who is picking him up, linking it to meal time so he can understand and discuss what activities he can do.He doesn't cry every day when I drop him off at nursery and doesn't cry when DH drops him off but he has got significantly worse since I went back to work in March.sad

I think he is a sensitive little boy but am worrying that because of my depression I have caused this. My friend was telling me her DD same age started to get like this but she just ignores her - she has no problems with her.

I have to say that we have no support network so he doesn't get left with other people very often other than nursery. He is very sociable though.

Any advice please

smee Fri 03-Jul-09 12:25:43

I'd say it's normal, so stop feeling guilty. My DS was like this too, but he's more or less grown out of it. Just be kind and firm and respect his need to know what the day holds for him. Sounds like you're getting it about right to me. Three's a very tricky age... grin

Mithered Fri 03-Jul-09 16:27:15

Thanks Smee. My friend is very confident and always gives "advice" unasked for. She doesn't know the extent of my problems and always tells me what I should be doing with my DS ie what she is doing with her DD.

I don't ask for the advice its just in general conversation about DC. She then tells me what she does with her DD and how I should be doing that. My DS and her DD are completely different personalities IMO and different people parent in different wass.

She is very forceful I suppose and I don't contradict her just go "Hmmm" then it festers and I worry I am being a crap mother

smee Fri 03-Jul-09 18:08:44

I got a lot of advice about my DS too. Lots of people said just be tough, but it was blindingly obvious to me that his distress was genuine and more profound than most other kids. I think I was more sympathetic as I was incredibly shy as a child. So I was as gentle as I could be with DS, but firm too like you are. I tried not to force leaving him if I had the choice and never left him unless I was confident he knew the people well and that they were sympathetic to him. Also I never belittled his fear, but equally I tried to be matter of fact rather than indulge it. Looking back, I think I somehow got it right, as he started school without a backwards glance and confidently goes to play at friends' houses, etc. Just do what you think is right. It's all you can do really.

Mithered Fri 03-Jul-09 21:51:35

Thanks Smee

The trouble is that I don't know what I think is right after getting unsolicited advice! I need validation/verification that what I am doing is right probably due to low self esteem.

I will just keep going and try to ensure DS feels loved, secure and happy. Can't try for much more than that. It does trouble me that he gets so upset to be separated from me but as you say three is a tricky stage. So was two. and one...looking forward to four wink

Sounds like you have done a good job though if your DS is happy being left at school and ffriends - thats what I aspire to

seeker Fri 03-Jul-09 22:06:34

I don't know if this helps at all, but I have never suffered from depression or any mental health issues (so far!) and my dd was incredibly clingy for years.

I could never leave her with anyone - even her beloved Grandma, and she even didn't like being left with her dad - who she adores and who IS good with children! She cried every day when I left her at school in Reception and at the beginning of every term until year 3.

Even now at 13 she finds it hard to spend the night away from me. BUT she is confident and happy, has no problems with self esteem and is doing very well at school.

Her little brother, on the other hand, would have gone cheerfully off with the Child Catcher from day 1!

What I'm trying, long windedly, to say is that it almost certainly isn't anything to do with your health, or anything you've done. Children are different - yours is a loving and sensitive little boy. Of course he would rather be with you than at nursery, but he will understand that that can't happen and learn to cherish the time you spend together - as you do.

smee Sat 04-Jul-09 10:53:12

What a lovely post Seeker and I agree. Mithered you sound like a great, caring thoughtful mother who's doing the right thing for your son. Don't worry about his clingyness, just accept it and try gently to build his confidence. It's who he is, not what you've done to him.

13lucky Sat 04-Jul-09 14:22:56

I completely agree with the previous answers - Seeker made me laugh out loud about second child who would go off with the child catcher!! My two sound very similar to your two. My daughter, who will be three next week, is so incredibly clingy, yet my son (who has been treated in exactly the same way) will go off with anyone (at the moment - I guess in time things may change). But I know so well how you're feeling - my daughter cries every time we put her shoes on to go to pre-school and you can see the panic in her face. It breaks my heart but when I collect her she is full of beans. She, like your son, has never been left with anyone else before (apart from my mum). When we go to friends' houses etc, she will cling to me or just stand and watch what's going on without joining in and I've had times when I've felt so sad that she's not enjoying herself, but I've learnt that it takes her a long time to warm up to a situation and usually 10 mins before we're leaving somewhere, she's found her feet and having a good time! It's nothing you've done and nothing to feel guilty about. As everyone always says, all children are different and there's no point your 'friend' comparing her child to yours. I've not met another child as clingy as mine...but I was exactly the same as a child and know full well that that was noone's fault. I can empahise greatly with my daughter and it sounds like you are doing a great job with your son.

Mithered Sun 05-Jul-09 09:24:17

Thanks for all taking the time to post.
It does make me feel better that other children/mothers are going through the same thing as none of my friends are.

smee Sun 05-Jul-09 11:13:06

I felt the same Mithered. It is just who he is.

herbgarden Sun 05-Jul-09 21:53:25

Hi there. My Ds turns 3 next week and he is quite a sensitive soul. If I tell him things too far in advance I can see the worry in his face. He's been going to the same nursery 2 days a week for the last 2 years and has little friends there who he knows but still he will cry when dropped off and is always full of it when we get him. We go to a playgroup once a week and he will not let me out of sight. If I go to sort the baby out I tell him where I'm going (he can see me all round the room but still I tell him) - If he can't see me for a second he'll instantly burst into tears and start screaming for me - he even cries when I've put both kids in their car seats and go back to alarm the house and lock the door (and pay at the petrol station even when he can see me at the till inside through the window). He's an odd sort because he is actually quite sociable but is nervous with new scenarios or if I'm not there. He's starting a little pre-school in September on top of his full days at nursery. I'm dreading it as I'm expecting the full clingy tears at drop off.

I was apparently like this as a child. I've also suffered from panic and anxiety in my 20's but really not since having him - in fact I've probably felt better since having him - and I sometimes worry that it's my fault but deep down I believe they will be who they'll be - in fact my DD who is 5 months is so chilled out as a baby (DS was never like this) I often wonder where she came from !!>...

You sound like a lovely mum and you seem to be dealing with it in a good way. I'm sure he's a lovely little boy too. My DS is full of love and cuddles (the upside of a the clinginess I suppose !) but the clinginess can be trying sometimes particularly when it feels like yours is the only one ever being clingy.

Mithered Mon 06-Jul-09 22:03:12

herbgarden our DS's sound like they are out of the same mould. I do get lots of cuddles from him and he is very sociable too.

This morning I had already gone to work by the time he woke up (first time for everythign) and he was fine with DH. He had a lovely day at pre school and was really pleased to see me at the end of the day. He didn't ask at bed time what we were doing tomorrow and seemed quite happy to go to bed.

When DD was born I carried on sending him to nursery but reduced his hours so that he still had continuity as I was worried that he would really struggle starting nursery again and me going back to work.

Will keep struggling on the best I can!

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