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How To Help Your Child Cope With Stress

How To Help Your Child Cope With Stress 1

We all want the very best for our children and will do everything to make sure that they are happy and healthy.

As adults, we see the children’s world as happy and carefree forgetting that they also have their own worries and anxieties which can result in distress in their young lives.

Kids worry about many things, such as school, peer pressure and family issues.  They suffer in silence and it is up to us to be able to look for signs and symptoms of stress in our children and help them to cope with them

What Is ‘Childhood’ Stress?

Any environment that requires your child to adapt or change will cause childhood stress. Childhood stress is mostly related to an illness of death in the family or the parents separating. Small doses of stress can be good for a child as it teaches them ways to manage stress as an adult. However, excessive stress can affect a child’s thinking, acting, feeling and overall development. This can affect a child’s feelings of safety and stability.

Separation from parents also known as separation anxiety can cause great anxiety in preschoolers and younger children. As they grow older they feel the pressure of academic and social environments and that in itself can cause stressful situations. Also, many kids today are overwhelmed with the amount of extracurricular activities they take part in and feel that they don’t have enough time to relax after school. The best thing a parent can do is talk to their kids about their activities and ask them how they feel about them. If your child complains about them, try to discuss the positive and negative aspects of those activities and either drop them or find out ways you can help your child to manage their responsibilities and time, to alleviate their anxiety.

Other sources of stress for children is they may be worried about what is going on in their family, such as if they hear their parents discussing their work issues or arguing, worrying about sick relatives, the death of a family member, and even separation or divorce.

Parents should be aware of how they discuss personal and family issues in front of their children as kids are highly mouldable and will pick up on their parents’ anxieties and start worrying themselves.

Certain things that are simple for parents can cause a lot of stress for kids and parents should let their children know that they understand the stress and acknowledge how their kids are feeling.

What Signs Should Parents Look For?

Short-term behavioural changes can be a clear sign something is going on in your child’s life. Your child may exhibit behavioural symptoms if they’re stressed such as mood swings, changes in sleep patterns such as waking up in the middle of the night, bedwetting, having trouble concentrating or completing their homework or they become withdrawn and socially isolated. 

Younger children may form new habits such as thumb sucking, hair twirling, or nose picking, while older children may also begin to lie, bully, or defy authority. A stressed-out kid may also overreact to minor issues that arise, experience nightmares, become overly clingy, become aggressive, and have drastic changes in their academic performance. Some typical physical symptoms include headaches, chest pain, a rapid heartbeat, stomach aches, and fatigue.

How Do You Reduce Your Child’s Stress

How can a parent help their child reduce their stress and anxiety in what seems like a constantly stressed-out world?  make sure your child gets proper rest and grood nutrition at home. That will help to boost their coping skills.

Additionally, good parenting is a great help. As a parent make time for your kids every day, this will definitely lessen the amount of stress and anxiety that your child faces. Always make yourself available for whenever your child needs you. Don’t pressure your child to talk about what’s going on, as sometimes children feel better when they do fun activities with their parents and spend time with them.

Always make sure your child knows how important they are and that you’ll be there for them all the time no matter what. That will be a great help to them during a diffiult time.

You should let your child know that some stress is okay and it is normal to feel angry, frustrated, scared, lonely or anxious. Reassuring your child is very important and always remind your kids that you are confident they can handle the situation and manage their stress.

How Do You Help Your Child Cope

Sometimes it helps to talk about your own problems and tell your child it’s okay to be vulnerable and talk about feelings and what they’re dealing with. You are always your children’s role model and therefore lead by example. Always remind your child tht you’re willing to tackle tough subjects and are always available to talk whenever they’re ready. Discuss with your child about what is causing them stress and help them cope by finding a solution to deal with the stress together.

It is a good idea also to consult a therapist or other mental health professional if your child is showing concerning symptoms and is unwilling to talk.

It is also helpful to cut back on after-school or weekend activities, spend more time talking and doing activities with them, and encourage your children to even speak to other trusted adults such as their teachers, counselors, and even their close friends.

Parent should also encourage their children to play more and limit their kids’ screen time to only two hours a day. Another coping method for stress and anxiety would be a healthy exercise routine and also encouraging them to write down their feelings about different issues. It is also helpful for the children to take part in stress-reducing activitie such as yoga and breathing techniques or even spending more time with their pets.

Always make sure your child knows that you are there for them all the time.

 

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How To Help Your Child To Become More Independent

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Children should be given more responsibility as they grow older. When you perform the basic tasks for them, you are actually taking away their independence, making them depend on you and become helpless.

The following tips will help your child in gaining confidence and becoming more responsible.

  • Make a list of tasks that your kid can do on their own. For example, getting dressed or sorting out their toys. Discuss with them about the tasks they can do. Give them the tasks that they are ready for and let them know what’s expected of them.
  • Don’t expect perfection from your children. If they make a mistake don’t criticise them, just show them the right way to do things.
  • Allow enough time for them to finish a task as they take longer than adults to do things. Don’t pressure them and make them feel stressed. As they practice, they will get faster at their tasks.
  • Develop a Daily Routine. Children need routine to manage their responsibilities. Changing their daily routine will confuse them. Instruct them about when they need to complete certain tasks and remind them beforehand about the task.
  • Offer Praise. Children love to be recognized for the things that they do. If your child does something on their own, which they needed help with before, praise them. Give them encouragement when they feel frustrated.

Although it seems easier and quicker to do things for your children, just don’t. When your children do tasks on their own it develops their sense of responsibility. As they grow older they will be able to tackle new situations with ease.

Supporting responsibility and independence in children results in self-confident, respectful and resourceful adults.

 

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How To Boost Your Child’s Confidence and Self-Esteem

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The development of healthy children is greatly affected by self-esteem. Children with high self-esteem become more successful later on in life and the ones with low self-esteem suffer throughout their lives. The responsibility of a child’s self esteem greatly depends on the parents who nurture it. There’s so much that a parent can do to make a child more confident and competent. Children with high self esteem have a strong emotional ability to face failures and have the courage to try again until they succeed. While the kids with low self-esteem are negative when they make mistakes. They blame themselves for the failure and refuse to try again.

Use the following methods to help your child feel good about themselves:

1. Show unconditional love to your child. Your children should believe that you love them and will be there for them at all times even if they fail. Always consider the effect of your own attitude on a child’s self-esteem. If a parent shows love only if the child succeeds and is critical when the child fails, it will put an enormous pressure on the child and their self-esteem.

2. Help your child to set achievable goals and support your child when they set these goals. The best way you can help your child is to set yourself as a good example for them. Always praise them even for the smallest achieved goal. Teach them how to persevere and never to give up.

3. Give your child choices. For example, allow them to choose what clothes they want to wear that day or give them two choices for lunch.

4. Discourage your child from attempting to be a perfectionist because your child’s self-esteem would suffer when they realise they can’t be perfect.

5. Don’t go overboard with your praises. Recognise your child’s achievement when recognition is due and praise the effort they put into a certain task.  Too much praise actually hurts a child’s confidence.

6. Let your child overhear you complementing them to another adult. That will boost their self-esteem.

7. Take good care of yourself and show your child that you’re important. This will lead to your child doing the same. Teach your children to love and believe in themselves and in their abilities.

We want the very best for our children, so it’s our responsibility to lead our children towards a happier and more fulfilled life.

 

 

 

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How To Talk To Your Kids about Divorce and Help Them to Cope

How To Talk To Your Kids about Divorce and Help Them to Cope 4

Divorce can put pressure on every member of the family, especially children.

It is often helpful to be positive in cases like this and see it as the best choice for future happiness.

Children are hit the hardest in cases of parents divorcing. They usually end up blaming themselves. You can do a lot to help your child cope and reduce the bad effects of divorce on them. It is important to know how and when to tell your children about the divorce from your partner. Talking to the children at an early stage is much better than leaving it to later stage.

Although the marriage is ending, children still need to feel a sense of trust. You can begin by saying “for a long time Mum and Dad tried to get along and be happy together, but we’re still not happy with each other. So we decided not to live together anymore”.

At that stage children will have many questions such as where will the live, when will they see each of you and where will they go to school. Share that information with them if you know the answers. If you don’t promise them that you will let them know once everything is sorted out.

You will be able to help your children cope with divorce by using the following tips:

Always be open and approachable to your kids. Talk to them about the divorce. Don’t ignore what is happening between you and your partner, talk about it to your kids. Let your kids know that they can talk about the divorce whenever they want to and let them know that it’s okay to talk about it.

You need to accept the anger and disappointment that comes from your children. Listen to their feelings about the subject of divorce and accept that it is natural for them to have such emotions.

Talk to your child about their fears and allow them to cry if they need to do so.

Make sure that your kids know that the divorce is not their fault. Help them come to terms with their feelings. It is important that you don’t show feelings of anger around your kids. Such action causes them to withdraw. Allow your kids to maintain a positive relationship with both parents and show them that you trust them to adapt to the changes.

Let your children know that Mum and Dad love them dearly and give them lots of affection to make them see your love and support. You need to provide your kids with the stability they need at this time of change.   Try to maintain the familiar routines of your child even though significant changes might occur.

Always inform your children of any changes ahead of time. Let them know before the change happens so they get prepared for it. Reassure them that all things will begin to improve.

It is better if change is done gradually and slowly and let your children express themselves on how they feel about the changes. Also, explain the visitation arrangements. Again always reassure the kids that both parents love them dearly and that they will have special times with both parents.

Support your child’s need to visit the other parent and their desire to love both parents. Tell them that you support those feelings. It will help them to cope even better.

Always try not to belittle your ex in the presence of kids and have something positive to say about your partner. This will ease some of the tension of the divorce for your child. Try to find the strength to be civil towards each other.

Make arrangements for special events such as birthdays and holidays.

A Few Don’ts:

  1. Don’t ask your child to deliver a message. Talk to your ex yourself if you need to talk about something, don’t use your child as a buffer.
  2. Don’t ever ask your children which parent they care more about.
  3. Always: Stop and think about how your words may affect your kids.

Divorce can certainly disturb your life’s expectations, but it doesn’t have to affect how you raise your children. Remember their needs, too, and you’ll both persevere through these hard times.

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How To Help Your Child Cope with a Death In The Family

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There are a lot of ways to show a child that is grieving and dealing with loss that you actually care. There are a few things to remember while you’re supporting a child through the grief. Keep the lines of communication open and encourage children to share their thoughts and feelings without pressuring them to do that. Try to earnestly listen to the child when they are telling a story about their loved one, whether a parent, a grandparent or someone else. The act of sharing stories can be help in the healing process of the child. Tell the child that it’s allright to feel emotions even feeling angry, and gently remind them that their loved one wouldn’t want them to feel that way.  Try to help a child to focus on happy memories of the person they are grieving and to celebrate these cherished moments whenever possible.

There are ways to help grieving kids to cope with loss. The following are a few tips in that direction.

Create and decorate a memory box. A child can fill it with items that remind them of their loved one, such as jewellery, photographs, pieces of clothing, glasses, favorite quotes, poetry, etc.

Help a child to write a letter or make a card to tell the person they are missing what they’ve been up to since that person passed away.

Create a memory book, which includes photographs of them with the deceased person as well as writing about their favorite memories.

Play their loved one’s favourite song.

Get a new picture frame to put the child’s favourite photograph of the deceased person.

It is important to give kids space and time to speak about their feelings and allow them to choose how they would like to remember their loved one.

When they are ready to share their feelings with you, listen with loving acceptance and without any judgement. There are no wrong feelings about grieving, and it’s okay if they choose not to participate in an activity.

Continue to encourage open communication with kids and create opportunities to remember the person who was so special to them.

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Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy Meals

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We all get frustrated sometimes that we can’t get our kids to eat healthily. We also know that kids are picky eaters and an occasional eating of greens will not make them a vegetable fan. All we need to do is be more creative and even use sneaky methods to get them accustomed to eating healthy.

It is a well know fact that children who have healthy eating habits in early life are more than likely not to suffer from obesity in their later years and the chronic illnesses are much lower as well.

Here are some tips for getting your kids to eat healthier meals:

  1. Process vegetables in a food blender and mix them up with your sauces and dressings. For example, you can put broccoli, spinach and kale in the blender or food processor and mix them up with a homemade pasta sauce or other sauces.
  2. spiralled vegetables are now a good alternative to pasta, use them instead of the normal pasta,
  3. puree some vegetables and mix them up with beef hamburgers. This method can also be used for homemade meatloaf and meatballs.
  4. Processed fruit snacks are full of sugar and preservatives. Invest in a food dehydrator and make your own fruit snacks.
  5. For those hot summer days your kids will be loving cool treats. Make them fruit and veggie pops by pureeing fruits and vegetables and freezing them in popsicles.
  6. Pack lunchboxes with kid-friendly fruits. Those little oranges and tangerines in kid-friendly sizes are always a hit, so include plenty of them when you pack their school lunches. Baby carrots and sliced apples with dipping sauces are other healthy lunchbox staples.

So with a few sneaky methods to introduce vegetables in your kid’s diet, you can rest assured that your child is getting all the nutrients from the vegetables you introduce in their meals.

 

 

 

 

 

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Foods That Negatively Affect Your Child’s Mood

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Through intuition parents know the impact of certain foods on their child’s behaviour and mood. For example, we all know that sugar can cause hyperactivity. But sugar is not the only mood altering ingredient. There are other snacks and meals that do the same. The following foods may affect your child’s mood and behaviour.

Dairy

Dairy can cause mood and behaviour changes in your child, particularly if they are lactose intolerant or allergic to proteins found in dairy. Children with dairy allergies tend to suffer from colds and ear infections. Babies may show colicky symptoms. Toddlers and older children may become irritable.

Artificial Colouring

The Chemicals in artificial colouring may have detrimental effects on children. They are linked to ADHD, anxiety, hyperactivity, behavioural changes and headaches in children. Artificial colouring is often hidden in unexpected foods such as bread and yoghurt. Avoid products with yellow No. 5, red No. 40, and blue No. 1, if you’re worried about your child’s mood swings after consuming food with artificial coloring.

Sugar

Sugar can cause a child to be hyperactive. Unless they’re eating a whole foods-based diet, sugar is in just about everything the average child eats. Sugar has been shown to cause long-term health damage, and a diet high in processed foods has been linked to depression, cognitive delay, and sleep problems.

Preservatives

Several preservatives may cause behavioural problems in children. They include but are not limited to nitrates, nitrites, and sodium benzoate. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer that also causes mood and behaviour changes, including headaches and hyperactivity. Sodium benzoate is commonly found in juices specifically marketed toward kids.

Food Allergens

Common food allergens are dairy, nuts, eggs, soy, and corn. When a child has an intolerance or an allergy to a particular food, it can cause significant health and behaviour issues. It is hard to tell which allergen is causing your child’s sickness. It is a good to consult an allergist in such situations. A food allergy is often missed and a child is instead diagnosed with ADHD.

Consider keeping a food journal where you track all the foods that your child consumes. Try to eliminate all the suspicious food sources to see if your child’s behaviour changes. Make sure that your child is not suffering from something that can be easily fixed before getting worried about your child’s behavioural problems.

 

 

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Reading Books To Your Child Helps In Their Development

Reading Books To Your Child Helps In Their Development

Books are a great way to develop children’s imagination and creativity. Make them a daily part of your child’s life because you will reap the rewards in various ways.

Quality Bonding Time

When you read a book to your child, that in itself creates a quality bonding time for both of you. This time will be cherished by your child for years to come and will result in a tradition that they pass down to their children in the future. This will also help your child to gain concentration skills and build lovely memories of reading a book together.

Increase Vocabulary Skills

Reading books together allows your child to discover a whole new world of vocabulary. When you read a book to your child every day, it helps them to develop a higher level of words to use in their conversation. As you read, your child will ask you the meaning of some words, so take time to explain those words and talk about what your child is reading.

Help in Easing Your Child’s Emotions

If your child is suffering from anxiety and extreme emotions there’s always a book to read to them about this topic. Children’s books have a way to decrease the scariness of things in your kid’s life so that they don’t feel extreme anxiety about a new experience. Your child will develop a higher acceptance of new changes.

Expanded Brain Power

The academics of children who had books read to them at a young age rank much higher than the ones who don’t. These children are more apt to be successful later in life. Reading helps in your child’s brain development. Your children will also learn how to speak correctly to others and how to have conversations on various subject matters. Reading to your child will also expand your kids’ imagination.

Helps Develop Focus

Reading books to and with your child will help enhance their ability to focus more. Reading will help a child to focus more and have good listening skills. When children read good books it helps develop their awareness of the world around them and increases their intelligence and creativity.

That’s why it is necessary for you to encourage your children to read good educational books and for you to focus on making reading a book to your child a daily routine.

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How Music Helps In The Development of Your Child

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Singing and music play an important role in our culture. Music is present in many activities of our lives: theater, television, movies, worship, holidays, celebrations, and government and military ceremonies. At home, music can become part of our family culture — a natural part of our everyday life.

From birth, parents instinctively use music to calm and soothe children, to express love and joy, and to engage and interact. Parents can build on these natural instincts by learning how music can impact child development, improve social skills, and benefit children of all ages.

Music and the Brain

A 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute found that musical experiences in childhood can actually accelerate brain development, particularly in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills. According to the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM Foundation), learning to play an instrument can improve mathematical learning and even increase SAT scores.

Academic accomplishments aren’t the only benefit of music exposure and education. Music helps in all areas of child development and provides them with necessary skills to be prepared for school. Music helps your child’s body and mind to work together. The exposure of children to music during early development stages helps them to learn sounds and meanings of words. Dancing to music helps children to express themselves and strengthens their memory.

In addition to its benefits in the development of your child, it brings them joy. Particularly music that spells out their name and sings a song in their name.

Music Games for Kids of All Ages

Children of all ages express themselves through music. Even young infants sway, bounce, or move their hands in response to music. Many preschoolers make up songs and sing their own song as they play.  Children in elementary school learn to sing together as a group and possibly learn to play a musical instrument. Older children dance to the music of their favourite bands, and use music to form friendships and share feelings. Try these activities and games with your children to experience the pleasure and learning that music brings.

Infants and Music: Infants recognise a song before they even understand the meaning of the words. Relaxing and background music can soothe infants particularly at their sleep time. Let your infant listen to simple short songs and try to make up one or two lines about eating, dressing and bathing.

Toddlers and Music: Toddlers always love to dance and move to music. The key to toddler music is repetition, which encourages language and memorisation. Silly songs make toddlers laugh. Try to make your toddler listen to a song and insert a silly word in the song, which will make your toddler laugh. Encourage your toddler to clap their hands and reproduce the rhythms by tapping on objects.

Preschoolers and Music: Preschoolers enjoy singing.  They like songs that repeat words and melodies, use rhythms with a definite beat, and ask them to do things. Preschool children enjoy nursery rhymes and songs about familiar things like animals, and people.

School-Age Children and Music: Most young school-age children are intrigued by kids’ singalong songs that involve counting or spelling. School-age children begin expressing their likes and dislikes of various types of music.

From the moment we’re born we enjoy the benefits of music. Music helps to enrich the lives of children and their carers.

More on Children and Music

• Tired of hearing the same children’s songs played over and over again? Here are some music suggestions that are appropriate for both kids and adults.

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How Can I Stop My Child From Being Too Clingy

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Many parents complain about finding it hard to deal with clingy kids, whether it’s a crying baby everytime the parent is out of sight, a toddler who clings to their parents at social occasions or a primary school child who stops the parents from going out to dinner without them.

“Clinginess” refers to a kid who has a strong reaction towards the idea of being separated from their parents.

Children exhibit clingy behaviour up to late primary school. Infants cry to let their parents know that they don’t like to be separated. Toddlers or older children may have a total meltdown if their parent leaves them.

In most cases, these reactions are perfectly normal. Parents can help their children through periods of clinginess by acknowledging and accepting the feelings that come with this behaviour.

Why do children get clingy?

There are two reasons why a child becomes clingy. One is separation anxiety and the other is stranger anxiety. The fear of being away from their parents and being surrounded by people they don’t know can result in a clingy child.

Sometimes children express the strong desire for their parent to stay through clingy behaviour.

Children are socially and biologically programmed to form strong attachments with their parents. Parents usually represent a safe, loving base from which children can explore the world and develop their self esteem.

Clingy behaviour may increase at certain times of development as children explore their new found independence, such as when they start to walk, or during other periods of change such as starting preschool, kindergarten or primary school.

Clingy behaviour decreases as children get older but can still be present for primary-school-aged children.

A child’s level of clinginess, and the way it is expressed, may be affected by:

The child’s temperament: Some children are socially shy or introverted, others are more outgoing.

Major changes in the child’s life. For example the birth of a new sibling or moving house or starting a new school. It is normal when children become more clingy at these situations, because they are getting used to change.

Other family factors such as divorce and parent separation, stressed-out parents or parents having mental health problems. Children are very sensitive to their parent’s reactions, so if a parent is going through a hard time the child may become more clingy or show other types of behaviours.

How can you help your child?

Be a safe base

A lot of kids show clinginess in new situations or with new people. This in itself has an advantage because the child is less likely to run off by themselves in possible dangerous situations.

But it’s also important for children to learn to separate from their parents and gain confidence in their own abilities.

Parents can help children get used to a new situation by supporting them through it. For example, if a child is starting at a new childcare centre, it may help for the parent to spend some time there with their child, so the child can become accustomed to the new environment with their trusted parent close by.

Acknowledge your child’s feelings

Parents need to know that ignoring a child’s feelings will not make the problem go away, because the kid is expressing their feelings through being clingy.

Instead, research shows it’s important to acknowledge and normalise children’s feelings.

Some parents are afraid that if they talk about their child’s feelings the situation will get worse. That’s not the case. Usually when you talk to your child about their feelings, it will help them to let go of those feelings and your child will be able to regulate their emotions.

Parents need to accept a tantrum at separation or a clingy behaviour at a social gathering until the child adjusts and take their time to let go of such feelings.

Model calm confidence

Children look at their parents as important role models of how to react to particular situations. The method of a parent’s response to a child’s clingy behaviour will shape a child’s feeling about a certain situation.

When parents react with a high level of concern towards the child’s clinginess at the start of primary school, it automatically affects a child’s thinking. The child may start to think that the new environment is unsafe. But when the parent shows calm confidence in their child’s abo;otu to cope with the new situation, the child will feel comfortable too.

For example, if a child is clingy when they start primary school and their parent reacts with a high level of concern and anxiety, the child may be unsure of whether the new environment is safe. But if the parent demonstrates calm confidence in their child, that he or she will cope with separation and/or the new situation, the child is more likely to feel comfortable too.

Discuss the plan in advance

Humans are afraid of the unknown, so talking to children about an upcoming change or feared situation will help them cope with it.

For instance, before going to the doctor, it would help to talk about how you’ll prepare, what might happen when you arrive and what might happen on the visit.

Even when talking about future events, it’s important to acknowledge feelings and model calm confidence.

But what if my child is just too clingy?

There are a few factors to consider when making a judgment about whether a child’s clingy behaviour is of concern.

First consider the facts such as is the child coping with a new change, a new environment or new people? Some children may take weeks or months to adapt to new situations. So you need to provide the child with a little extra support to get them through that situation.

Second, consider the intensity of the behaviour. Is the clingy behaviour interfering with the child’s regular life? For instance, is it interfering with their ability to go to kindergarten or school, or causing your child (and the parents) considerable upset and stress?

Third, consider the time frame. If the behaviour is occurring daily and lasting more than four weeks, and is interfering with the child’s life, it may be helpful to consult with a professional such as a GP, paediatrician, psychologist, or school counsellor.