surrender 15 minutes

what to do with clingy childBalancing children’s demands and a parent’s desire to get things done is one of the hallmark struggles of having young children. Some days it feels like you can’t even use the toilet in peace, let alone take a shower or return a phone call. When tensions mount and you are ready to lock yourself in the garage and scream “When do I get MY time?” try the unexpected and counterintuitive. Give in. Drop everything and surrender 15 minutes and do whatever your child wants. Sit and read, build with blocks, let them sit on your lap and type letters on the keyboard. Lavish them with love and attention. Too often these moments when children seem particularly needy or clingy are when they feel us, their parents, pulling away into our own worlds. Show them that we’re still here for them in the most over-the-top way and then they may wander off content. (And then, if you want, you can check your email!)


One of my most successful strategies for a clingy child, which always took far fewer than 15 minutes, was what came to be known as the “Never-Go-Away Cuddle.” I’d sit with them on the couch and hold them like when they were babies. I’d tell them how we don’t really need to eat or go outside ever again, that everything I needed was right here in my lap and lo! we could even sleep here, so comfy this was … . They would laugh through this, and little by little try to plan their escape, which, of course, I would theatrically thwart. The crazier the “things we could do without” were that I rattled off as we sat together, the funnier they thought it was. As the children got older, they would actually ask for these “Never-Go-Away Cuddles.” It has always been five minutes well spent. —t


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