Q: My two-year-old seems to have a split personality. When I get him ready in the morning, he whines and cries until his father puts him in his car seat. On the days I drop him off at daycare, he holds onto my leg until I hand him over to one of his teachers — who say he’s one of their most well-behaved kids. I feel like everyone gets to enjoy my son but me.
A: While we expect to see separation anxiety late in our children’s first year of life, we’re often unprepared when it hits later on. But kids can have bouts of it as toddlers and preschoolers.
Often, toddlers are conflicted between wanting to be big kids and wanting to remain babies. Your son’s behaviour could be telling you that, right now, he isn’t ready to be a big kid. He may be feeling pressured to grow up. So make sure he gets some special time with you and lots of hugs every day.
It’s also quite typical for kids to save their worst behaviour for their parents, particularly mom. That’s actually a compliment because it tells you he knows he can show you all his insecurities and you will still love him.
The trick in dealing with your son is to be matter-of-fact when he has a fit of the clingies. Hand him over to the teacher, say goodbye and remind him that you will be back to pick him up. Then leave. It might also be helpful to have the same teacher meet him every morning.