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How best to deal with clingy DS1?

(5 Posts)
amyboo Mon 06-May-13 09:35:43

DS1 just turned 3 at the end of March and has recently become super clingy to me, especially in new environments. DS2 was born in mid February, so I don't know if it's because of his arrival or not. I'm just at my wits end and really don't know how to deal with his behaviour.

Some recent examples:
- He's started crying and clinging to my legs very morning when I drop him at maternelle (Belgian equivalent of pre-school). He's been there full-time since September, and was perfectly happy there until mid-March. He has plenty of friends he plays with there and the teachers tell me he calms down after 10/15 minutes (often with the aid of his dummy!). He's often happy on the way to school in the morning but freezes when he sees all the kids in the classroom. When I ask him what's wrong he says he wants Mummy.
- At his school fete last weekend his class did a dance thing. Again, he was really excited on the way to school, but once we got there and he saw all the people, he just clung to me. It ended up in a massive crying meltdown, and he only went up and danced with his class when I told him I'd go with him.
- We went to an open day at a fire station this weekend. He was so excited beforehand about going on a fire engine, but when he saw all the other kids waiting to go on, he wouldn't go on. Not even with his Dad. With a bit of cajoling, I eventually got him to go on a different fire engine with me, and he loved it. Same thing with the bouncy castle, except he wouldn't go on at all because I coudn't go on with him :-(

I know separation anxiety is normal, but I just don't know how to deal with it any more and it's making me sad to see my happy little boy get so upset and clingy. I've tried being supportive, shouting, punishing, cuddling, talking to him/explainng but nothing works. I find it really hard when he's been so excited about something, like his school fete, and then he just melts down crying. Could this change in behaviour be because of DS2 arriving? He's been really good about it at home - clearly happy to have a brother. I'm obviously on maternity leave now, but normally work full-time, so I don't know if it's because of that either? He's not used to me being at home and was previously in creche full-time before starting school.

Sorry for the mammoth post. Is there anyone with any advice or experience of this that can help? Coping techniques for me and DS1 would be really welcome...

JiltedJohnsJulie Mon 06-May-13 09:50:10

It does sound like he's having some separa tion anxiety and it could well be due to the changes but he doesn't sound that different to many other DC of his age. Lots of 3 yo cry when you leave them at childcare, he's probably old enough to realise that you are spending the day with his brother. It's also a lot to expect them to do a dance in public at this age, I can't blame him for getting nervous, I know I would smile. Perhaps what you are experiencing here is a problem with your expectations? He is still very little after all.

There are some tips here on separation anxiety. They are aimed at younger children but there maybe one or two things you can use smile

I'd also drop the shouting and being upset, what he needs now is a calm and patient mummy who is always there for him.

amyboo Mon 06-May-13 19:00:38

I guess I just find it hard to deal with because he's never normally cried at drop off (and he's been in fulltime creche since he was 5 months old). I try to stay calm and explain to him that Mummy loves him, will come back and get him, etc etc, but it doesn't seem to do much good. I suppose I do need to revise my expectations. It's hard to know what he should be capable of at this age, as a) he's my first child, and b) Belgian kids seem to learn to be quite independent from an early age...

LucyLucas Mon 06-May-13 19:25:22

Is he shy at all? Because in all of the examples you have listed he seems to have become upset as soon as he sees the other children
He was so excited beforehand about going on a fire engine, but when he saw all the other kids waiting to go on
he was really excited on the way to school, but once we got there and he saw all the people
He's often happy on the way to school in the morning but freezes when he sees all the kids in the classroom
It seems as if he is fine with the idea of being separated from you but then is shy of the other children and then automatically wants you. Maybe he's fine with separation but not fine with other children? Maybe something happened there with the other children and now he is scared of them or embarrassed? Try talking to him and see if anything bad has happened.
Hope this helps, not an expert as both ds were fine at nursery.

amyboo Mon 06-May-13 20:00:56

He is quite shy, but usually warms up once he knows people. DH is quite shy too, so I guess it could be an inherited character trait. He's usually fine with the kids he knows, but tends to not like big groups of people, particularly adults. For example if we go to a friend's birthday party he clings to us when he sees unfamiliar adults and children. I'm trying to be supportive for him, but I'm just finding it so upsetting when he's clearly excited about something but then gets scared/clingy if there's unfamliar people. I also feel a bit embarassed if/when he's the only one like that at a party or something, which I know is awful of me :-(

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