Toddler Parenting Articles
Shy Toddlers

Shy toddlers and toddler separation anxiety can be a problem for moms. Here are some gentle grace based ways to help your toddler.

Each day that I look at my 4 children I am reminded how fast the young years pass. When our children are little we only know that reality and often we narrow our focus to only the here-and-now (like potty training, tantrums, feeding toddlers healthy meals, getting them to nap etc), but what we really should be doing is focusing on the long term goal of raising our children to become successful adults.

They will, after all, spend the majority of their lives as adults, not children.

Keeping this in mind is very helpful when we have to deal with the constant child training issues that arise when we have toddlers at home.

Parenting tip for shy toddlers

Have you ever been to a park or birthday party where there is are shy toddlers who refuse to separate from their parent? Perhaps it is your child who is the one that is glued to your leg?

It is very common for toddlers to go through a shy phases, some may even remain shy or insecure when separating for up to 6 years of age. In some cases young children even older than this fail to separate easily.

Moms who have toddlers or children who cling to them in unfamiliar environments often become exasperated by this behaviour and it even intensifies when other moms comment on it or when she notices how easily all the other children are happy to leave their moms side and enter the fun.

For moms who find themselves in this situation, I would encourage you to not give into feelings of anxiety, frustration. Do not force your child to leave your side - this will create further feelings of insecurity and have a compounding effect for the next party or outing you attend! Instead serve your toddler their party food, find a comfy seat and sit down with them and enjoy the party or outing, even from afar.

Other moms who are free to move about will more than likely come and sit with you and you can enjoy some adult interaction with your toddler right by your side. This way you can ensure that you and your toddler have a good time at the outing. Be sure to also set your expectations for the day so that you do not end up frustrated as you were expecting to have time out while your little one played alone.

While it is my firm opinion that far to many experts and even some mothers expect toddlers to become independent too soon, there are ways that you can help your toddler to move into feeling secure when you are not going to be with them.

Some fun activities to do with your shy toddlers to help them with permanence:

Permanence is understanding that while they may not see you, you are still around.

  • Play hide and seek
  • Play peek-a-book
  • Story books about separating
  • In addition to this you can also consider the following:
    • Say good bye properly if you ever have to leave them with a caregiver
    • When you are not in eyesight of your toddler and they start to fuss, call out to them and tell them you are coming. If this is not an urgent cry, do not rush to them but stay in voice contact as you move closer.
    • If you toddler is showing signs of anxiety, be sure that you take a period of time to cut out any activities (including playschool if your toddler attends one) and remain at home with them for a season.
    • Start teaching them to play alone for short periods of time. Start with 5 minutes alone in their room with a special box of toys for "alone time" and slowly build this time up.
    • If you are battling with being together all the time, make sure you are developing relationships with your toddler and another adult (aunt, grandparent, trustworthy friend) so that they will eventually be able to remain with them for a short period of time when you need some time out

    Character building activity - God is watching over you

    Consider doing this Bible craft with your toddler to help them understand that even when you are not with them, God is watching over them all the time.

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