“I have a question for the MMB community. My son is 19-months old. All of a sudden when we have visitors come to the house, he clings to me and cries if I try to put him down, my husband tries to take him, or the new person tries to talk to him. I work full-time and commute one hour each way, so I constantly worry about not having enough time with him and wonder if he thinks new people are babysitters and that I’m going to leave when they come.Is this a normal 19-month old thing? Have other people had this experience? What did they do about it?”
Well, I read this to my husband, and he asked if I was going to write a book back to Courtney because of how much we have talked about this topic recently! My son (3 1/2) would greet the UPS man like he was a long-lost relative every time he came to our house. He has always been pretty friendly and outgoing, and we thought that would be how all of our kids would act. My daughter (14 months), has been very shy and afraid of strangers for a good 5-6 months now. Whenever someone new would enter a room, and I would even slightly move, she would grip on to me for dear life, as if she was saying, “sure mom they look nice, but if you even dare let me go I am going to scream bloody murder”….because that would pretty much be what would happen!
Courtney’s email resonated with me as well because I also commute an hour to work, and my kids are at day care…I sometimes find myself concerned that they don’t know why I am dropping them off each day. I know they don’t know any differently, but it does make me nervous all the same!
My daughter has been particular about the people she likes – beyond her immediate family and day care teachers, there were a handful of people she would let even hold her. I eventually realized that she just did not really like being forced into a situation. She wanted to get comfortable with people on her own terms. I started warning people that she was not a people person, and to give her time. Everyone wants a baby to like them, so it wasn’t popular when I told them this, but that was her…and we are her parents, so they really should listen to us!
When people would come to our house and make the visit about the rest of us, instead of being focused on her, she warmed up to them faster than if they stood there holding a gift in front of her face and continuously trying to hold her…I guess she is going to be that girl who is going after the guy who plays hard to get. At the end of the day though, she just had to do everything on her terms.
I am very excited that recently, she seems to be turning the corner. When we were at a birthday party the other week, she reached out to a random woman. The woman wound up holding and playing with her for 20 minutes…it was bizarre, but we went with it! She also tries to talk to anyone and everyone while we run errands, she is at school, or even if the people are not real (i.e. the “Old Navy Family” during a recent mall trip). I think it is just about accepting the boundaries that the child has set up for some reason…
Here are some of the Facebook comments that came in as well..
Mary: Yes. I would just have other people hold him while you are right there and talk to him so he can be reassured that he is safe then after a few minutes you hold him that way he knows that you aren’t leaving for good.
Kate: I feel that is very ordinary and nothing to worry about. My daughter was the same way at that age. You are your child’s world and any one new deviates from the norm. Make the situation as calm and re-assuring as possible. I fondly remember the arms clinging to my leg and foot like a new appendage.
More than a Cupcake: I agree with Kate. I have 4 boys and 2 were like this at this age and older. I read A LOT of books and one thing I did learn to do was not to ever force him to go to someone if he doesn’t feel comfortable with it. Even if it is a grandparent, uncle, aunt etc. They will slowly start to grow and mature out of it for the most part. Lots of love, assurance and understanding on your part will help them to feel there isn’t anything “wrong” with them:)