Why Does My Toddler Follow Me Everywhere? Here’s Why!

By  Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH | Updated - 19 April 2021

Do you get frustrated when trying to get anything done at home and say to yourself... "Agh! Why does my toddler follow me everywhere?! I can't get anything done!"

If yes, then you're in the right place!

But... first things first...

It is perfectly normal for your toddler to follow you and you should actually be honored by the gesture! 

And let me explain why...

You are the centre of their world and they will still be feeling their safest when they are with you!

Why does my toddler follow me everywhere

And yes... as annoying as it can be... try to look at it from their perspective. The world is a big scary place and you are their protector! They feel safe with you!

However, you also need to get stuff done and be confident that your toddler will be OK when you leave them alone!

So how can we help your toddler learn to be content by themselves and how can we get those precious moments of breathing space back for you?

Why Does My Toddler Follow Me Everywhere?

Do you ever find yourself saying... "Why is my toddler so clingy?!"

Well firstly, knowing why your toddler is so clingy and needing to be close to you all the time and understanding how to handle the situation will help both you and your little one move forward...

Start by recognising that if your toddler is clingy it is usually just a passing phase and that is a natural part of their development

However, causes of separation anxiety in toddlers can be due to:

  • Their personality
  • A change in their routine
  • Moving house 
  • The arrival of new sibling -> Check out this video to learn more!
  • A period of illness
  • Starting nursery school
  • Parents separating
  • A parent returning to work
  • Not being exposed to other children 

Click here to jump to my 10 Ways To Stop Your Toddler From Following You Everywhere!

Separation Anxiety & Obsessive Behaviours

As I briefly mentioned earlier, all toddlers will experience separation anxiety at some stage and the extent to which it manifests itself will vary from child to child.

Some will be happy for you to leave them alone for a while, but others will only become really clingy when you are in an unfamiliar environment. And you will find yourself saying "my toddler is obsessed with me!"

If you feel your toddler is obsessed with you and follows you everywhere, then the best way to help them deal with this is to recognise the issue exists in the first place and then think of ways in which you can make your little one feel safer away from you.

Look at what is going on in their lives and see if there's any reason for them to feel you might leave them and not return.

Acknowledge their feelings and tell them how much you love them. Explain that you understand they need you and that you are going to do your best to make them feel better. 

Then try and implement some of the Top 10 Ways To Help Your Toddler Be Less Clingy, to see if you can build their confidence and make them feel safe enough to be away from you for short periods of time.

REMEMBER

Never push your toddler away & when you communicate with them get down to their level, make eye contact and listen to what they have to say.

Doing this may enable you to understand more clearly what is causing their anxiety.

Why Has My Child suddenly Become clingy?

Over the years, I have been asked by many families "why is my 2 year old suddenly clingy?"

And sometimes separation anxiety or your toddler being clingy can come out of nowhere.

It can happen at any age, but for whatever reason, it quite often occurs around the 2 year mark! And it is usually triggered by something very specific in your little one's life.

As with obsessive toddlers, take a look at what is going on in their world.

Firstly consider how their day has been going... Is their schedule off? Are they overtired or hungry? 

In all these instances your toddler may suddenly decide that life is too much and they just want you to fix it. This is normally short term anxiety that will pass once you have been fed or had a nap.

If this happens regularly you may need to look at your toddlers daily routine. Having a regular routine is essential to make your toddler feel safe and secure especially when it comes to mealtimes, naps and most importantly bedtimes.

Another reason that a normally relaxed toddler may suddenly become clingy, could be a sign that they are not feeling well and have turned to you for comfort even though they can not vocalise what it is they need.

Check their temperature and keep an eye on developing symptoms. Again, this will be a short term clinginess that should pass as soon as they are feeling better.

why does my toddler follow me everywhere Featured Image

10 Ways To Help Your Toddler Stop Following you Everywhere!

Whatever the cause, there are things you can do to help your toddler be more independent both within the home and away. If your toddler is constantly following you everywhere then try implementing the following:

1. Always Be A Safe Base For Your Little One

Toddlers may feel overwhelmed in a new situation with people they don’t know and be reluctant to leave your side. Allow them time to assess the situation and establish what is going on. If they don’t wish to go off on their own, offer to go with them to try something out.

2. Stay Calm And Confident

If your toddler is struggling to adjust to going to nursery for the first time, make time to stay with them for a while until they are used to the new environment.

If they start to cry about you leaving, you need to remain calm and reassuring. They will sense if you are distressed too and this will make them feel even more scared about you leaving. 

Whatever you do, do NOT say "stop following me!". That will only upset them further and cause them to follow you more.

Top Tip

Always remember that your toddler will look to you for reassurance!

3. Never Sneak Away

Now, this may sound counterintuitive... Especially if your toddler is happily playing and you don't want to alert them to the fact that you are leaving them... 

But, their confidence will come from their trust in you being there! 

Therefore, you should always state your intention to leave and that you promise to return in a certain amount of time. Keeping that promise is what will make them less clingy in time

4. Offer Lots Of Love And Affection

Toddlers are very affectionate and they love to be in close contact with you.

Make sure you spend lots of time doing close bonding activities with your toddler so that they feel that they are getting enough of your attention.

If in their eyes you are always too busy or distracted, they will feel insecure. So when you are focused on spending time with them, be truly focused

5. Encourage Independent Play And Offer Verbal Support

Another way to stop your toddler following you everywhere is to set them up with an activity in a safe play space where you can leave them to enjoy and explore independently

Another great way to do this is to start them off with something and then say that you need to pop to the kitchen for something and be back quickly. Keep talking to them from the other room.

Do this several times over several days and gradually extend the amount of time you leave them alone. Be patient and over time you'll be able to pop away for longer and longer.

Top Tip

When fully hooked on an activity, most toddlers will play for a significant amount of time by themselves.

6. Understand Why Your Little One May Be Needing You & Following You Everywhere

There are many circumstances in life when your toddler may feel the need to be with you more than others.

Consider what is going on in their lives such as moving house, arrival of a new sibling, starting nursery school or parents separating.

All of these situations can trigger your toddler to want to be with you constantly to make them feel safe.

To learn more about how to prepare and help your toddler with the arrival of a new sibling, check out this video! ->

7. Get Your Toddler To Work Alongside You

Instead of trying to separate your toddler from you and what you are doing, get them to work alongside you! 

If you have to work on your computer, set them up nearby with paper and crayons and ask them to draw you a picture. Stop and pay attention when they want to show you what they have done then set them another task.

If you are doing chores around the house get them a miniature cleaning set and have them help. This is teaching them all sorts of developmental skills and at the same time you will feel less frustrated if you are getting things done.

8. Have A Safe And Regular Routine 

Toddlers love predictability and routine, it is what makes them feel safe.

Knowing what to expect at each stage of the day may help your toddler be less clingy and having an established and regular bedtime routine will help with separation anxiety when it is time for them to sleep.

9. Give Them A Favourite Toy To Focus On 

You could also help them focus on a favourite toy to keep them company and make them feel safe when you are not around. This works especially well at bedtime.

Some children love their teething toys, whilst others will have favourite toys because they smell of you. Whatever the toy is, it is as important to them as your phone and keys are to you, so treat it as such and make sure you can always get it when your toddler needs it!

10. Encourage Your Toddler To Trust Others 

You will need to enlist the help of close relatives and your partner for this one.

Firstly, encourage your toddler to let other family members play and hold your little one while you are present. 

Take things slowly but always remember to show your child that you trust this person. You can do an activity together and as your toddler becomes more comfortable, you can start to take a back seat and watch.

So, whatever the reason for your toddlers' clinginess, take heart from the fact that there is always something you can do about it. 

Top Tip

Always remember that it is normal for your toddler to want to spend almost all of their time with you and that their independence has to be learnt and nurtured.

And there you have it! A handy guide for how to handle clingy toddlers! If you enjoyed this post about "Why does my toddler follow me everywhere" and know any other parents who would enjoy this content, be sure to give it a share! 

If you have any further questions about clingy toddlers or if you have any blog recommendations that you'd like me to write about? Then please drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know! I absolutely love hearing from you!

And as always, thank you for your continued support!

Teething to Tantrums Author

Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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