Saturday, May 2, 2009

Socializing Issues

Usually I'm in full brag mode when posting (keep in mind that my original audience consisted of grandparents, who can't get enough of that sort of thing). But today I have Concerns. This morning we went to a Welcome Baby party for some friends (i.e. a baby shower after the kid is born). It was loud, there were a million kids running around. I could understand Ben being a bit overwhelmed and clingy. But he was more than just clingy. Whenever he lost sight of either of us, he started howling and crying. He wanted to be in our arms or on our laps, receiving our full attention at all times. We've taken him to plenty of similar social events in the past, and he would start off a bit clingy, then warm up to the occasion and actually have a good time. He didn't like it when we got too far away, but at least he could roll with it.

I had thought he was doing well at day care. Certainly he seemed to be a in good mood when I picked him up every day, and our day care provider gave positive reports. He didn't like it when one of the mothers came for lunch several days a week, but otherwise everything seemed fine. Then this week the day care provider indicated that he'd been a little fussier than usual. And on Wednesday when I picked him up, she said something like, "He's not having as many good days as we'd like by this time." Which very much took me aback -- what does that mean?

Then Neil says, yeah, he's been pretty clingy at the weekly play group he takes him to. The other kids are climbing the walls, running from room to room, but Ben freaks out every time he loses sight of Neil.

He's never been very venturesome socially, and I would say that there's always been a little underlying tension when he's in social situations. But I never thought it was a real problem until now; he seems to be taking a turn for the worse. On the other hand, when he's at home with us, he tends to be very happy and cheerful for the most part. So I'm wondering what, if anything, to do. Is this a phase? Is it just his personality? Are there ways of developing more self-confidence and independence in him?


leah said...

Julia, I will say that my older son (who was not typically clingy) went through a terribly clingy phase from 18 months-24 months. A second separation anxiety peak occurs at this age, I think. Nolan's always been much clingier than Matt, and there have been days recently that I haven't been able to go to the bathroom alone! I'm not sure how much of the extra "cling" is due to hearing loss or just his innate personality, but there are days I can barely put him down without a lot of crying and grabbing onto my legs.

I wish I had some hints! I'm interested in what other people have to say, because we're going through the same thing with Nolan.

Carolyn said...

Certainly there are built-in clingy phases, although I do have another idea: it seems like every time a kid springs forward, developmentally speaking, they follow it with some kind of a backlash (temporary). Often this takes the form of being really clingy and more baby-like for a while. Growing up is kind of scary, sometimes.
So maybe all these intellectual strides forward scare Ben a little sometimes, so he wants to retreat into Mommy's or Daddy's arms for a while. Maybe it's something to do with that.