Ever have that feeling that you're not alone, like, ever? Claire Harrington, mom from Sun Valley, Idaho, knows it well.
"It was close to
bedtime, but the guests were still in the backyard," she told me. "The s'mores had just been revealed, and I was
running upstairs to get a jacket. When I came back downstairs and put my hand
on the knob, I had that eerie feeling like someone was watching me. I turned
around and, in the corner, hidden by the shadows, he stood. Silently watching
I hadn't left him
among strangers, I hadn't gone far and I had only been out of his sight for
"I went to get a jacket!" I yelled. "You scared me to
My heart was racing, and I was severely annoyed.
Mama's Boy. Cling-on. Stalker? They are names that kids who are highly
attached to their parents have been called before and, perhaps, will be called forever.
Is the fact that beyond toddlerhood your children must sit on your lap at the
beach instead of playing on a wide open beach such a big deal?
grow older, parents think the natural tendency will be for their kids to want more
independence, that they will want time away from Mom or Dad. So what's going on when that hasn't happened by the tween years?
And if it's attention they are seeking, it's OK to just give it to them, no questions asked.
Wenner Moyer writes on Slate.com that "periodic clingy behavior" is
normal and that what we might consider clingy might also be an internal response
from a child who feels they are not capable of being alone. A feeling, the
story argues, parents were responsible for putting in place.
also come about when parents give children the sense that they can't do things
on their own—as when you step in too quickly to help with puzzles or don't let
your kids take minor risks at the playground," Moyer writes. "Children
do need help and guidance, but it's important for their developing sense of
confidence and independence to let them try things on their own and get
So building self-esteem, fostering confidence, setting up
safe ways to stretch beyond their comfort zones can be, for 10 to 12 year olds, something like riding around the neighborhood on their bikes, encouraging sleepovers and
completing an art or engineering project from beginning to end. The sense of accomplishment
and confidence from small acts to lead to a bigger result for your clingy son
And if it's attention they are seeking, it's OK to just give it
to them, no questions asked. Which is what Harrington did the night her son scared her.
"That night I was angry
and felt suffocated by my son, as I had so often in the past," she said. "But looking back,
with 20/20 vision, I realized that there was something he needed from me that I
wasn't addressing. I took him on a walk recently, just the two of us, and towards
the end of the walk he told me it was his favorite thing we had done all week.
That night there was no clingy behavior, just lots of hugs and kisses before
bed. A perfect way to end the day."