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Zeba Kids

Your child is too clingy?
We have few words for you.

Are you a hip-juggling momma with your koala baby?
Read this article and you'll learn more about:

-How to deal with your clingy child-
-Circle of security-
-Practical ways to separate from your kid without disturbing him-
-How to end Montessori game if your child doesn't want to-

Do you picture yourself while reading this comment from one discouraged Montessori Mom:

"I'm feeling quite discouraged and overwhelmed practicing Montessori. I’m 10 months into it. My now 19 months old is always clingy and I really want to know in reality if it is realistic at all for them to play independently or be focused on an activity and finish it for longer than a minute.
I wonder if toys and activities she has are too boring, I mean she would often lay on the floor if I'm not available just looking sooo bored, instead of going to her shelf.
She needs new things?
I always consider first if I could make something for her before purchasing, but it takes me 1-3 hours to make them sometimes and it is just not always possible especially with her clinging onto me all the time. She does all these things happily only when I'm with her and attentive. If I order her to play herself she will be upset.
I'm really on the verge of breaking down because she is not able to give me a break or play independently despite all my effort in following her in terms of interest. Please share what the realistic expectation really should be."     

-Petra, Cleveland 

Congratulations you've got a normal baby! Don't be discouraged.

Montessori is not about making them play alone, it's giving them work to build on their skills and interests. Your kid needing you there is not a problem. If I was ordered to go do something alone I'd probably be upset too. If you do feel you're overly entertaining you could take a step back and see what she does while remaining near her.

Expectation of a child to remain focus on an activity is 5minutes X their age. Which means child at the age of 2 can only stay focused for no more than 10 minutes. This is a gauge of course, if kid is not interested at all, it'll be a lot less and if it's an engrossing activity, it may be more.

It is also normal for them to not want to spend time by themselves. Children this age follow
a "nature" way of living, either to stay with the group or with an adult, it feels weird to many children to be by themselves (in general, of course, some babies are ok with being by themselves some don't like that feeling.). They naturally learn so much by being around their parents and other people they are close with. They also don't understand why they are alone in the family room while you are in the kitchen for example, making dinner or washing dishes.

From my own personal observations as a mom and a Montessori teacher, children stay engaged and focused for much longer in a classroom setting. My daughter can work independently at school, but wants me to do everything with her at home. Im noticing this more now that I'm "homeschooling".

We should involve kids in our work when possible, but it’s OK to let them be upset and for you to carry on with things you need to get done. Acknowledge them feeling upset and simply state “I cannot pick you up right now. I’m doing XYZ.” Take some deep breaths, relax, stay calm, and let them be upset for a bit. She’ll be ok!

Also, some moms reported that they have found that background noise/music helps tremendously with keeping their kiddos playing somewhat independently.

And if you’re having trouble cooking, a learning tower will be life changing. Stick your kid at the sink to play and get her to help you cook when possible. Order one of kid-friendly sets for cooking such as this one to help them be more engaged.

If for some reason you are not able to provide a learning tower, and baby needs to see you while you cook and can’t help, sit her nearby with some pots and spoons (or whatever kitchen related) to explore. Everything doesn’t have to be a planned out lesson or material.

Here are some other ideas kids love to do in addition to their Montessori shelf work:

Lots of gross motor play, i.e. riding their bike, playing with a huge yoga ball, push toys
-Exploring anything outside
-All things music-related, finger plays, nursery rhymes, singing songs, playing musical
instruments, dancing
-Doing chores with their moms & all practical life activities (especially vacuuming)
-Exploring cupboards and closets while mother is cooking
-Learning tower helps with overlooking what mom is doing and if possible, helping.

And remember: never force it. It's hard, I know, but secure attachment will lead to that independence you're looking for.
Allow it when they seek it but don't push it or they will likely become less trusting and more clingy. One day they won't want to be so near you. Try to embrace it.

Circle of security 

Separate with confidence

Children are very sensitive to our feelings. If we are feeling ambivalent, upset, guilty, etc. about leaving them in a safe place while we separate, there’s little chance that our child is going to be able to let us go gracefully. If we’re unsure, how can our child possibly feel secure?
So I recommend always telling your child you will go (sneaking out creates much more anxiety and mistrust), and doing so with kindness, assuredness and confidence in your child as fully capable of handling this situation.
“I’m going to the bathroom and will be back in 5 minutes.”
If you can remember to, it’s always best to leave out the “okay?” at the end, since that implies uncertainty or a need for the child’s permission. If the child cries as you are trying to leave, acknowledge, “I hear you. You don’t want me to go. I’ll be back."

"I’m following these Montessori Facebook groups for inspiration but when i see all these perfectly calm toddlers doing perfect chores and stuff, I look at my crazy wild 19 months old throwing stuff and climbing and running and screaming and I think to myself: HOW?"

          -Joanne, NY

Sometimes kids are anxious that you won't come back even if you need to leave them for no more than 5 minutes. Another great advice from one of our assertive moms is:

"I'd start leaving room by saying “I have to go to the toilet and I’ll be right back.” Then I'd go to toilet and flush so that she could hear it. (you don't necessarily need to go to toilet,  flushing covers any reason for leaving.)
Another common situation is washing the dishes. It works well when child is in the bed and ready to sleep. You could say "I am going to quickly do the dishes, you will hear me in the kitchen, and if you need something I’ll be right here. Once I’m done with the dishes I’ll be back”. At this point child often falls asleep before mother comes back. You should never lie though. It's important to stick to what you said, and always come back to check on your kid and if she/he is awake you should stay for a little while. You need to build trust with your child, because later it will be crucial.

How to end Montessori activities if your kid doesn't want to

I'm sure many of you enjoy doing practical activities with your kids but when the time comes to stop, you have a problem. Perhaps you try telling them "1 more minute" and having them do the cleanup or putting things away but they just wants to take it back out. (For example, when it's time to move to the next step in baking but your kiddo wants to keep mixing. It often ends with a melt down and having to remove them from helping.)

We have few advice on getting them to move on from an activity within a reasonable time frame.

Some moms are big fans of offering choice. "Would you like to add the next item to the bowl, OR help put the batter in the pan?"

 For instance, if your daughter loves water and doesn't want to turn of the faucet.
So you should try offering "Would you like to turn off the faucet, OR do you want mom to turn it off?" This might help.

Some moms think it's not big of a deal if your kid stirs the bowl for another 5 minutes. For instance If she brushes her teeth for 30 minutes one night, do you think she would be over it and less interested in doing it for that long the next night? Montessori strongly discourages interrupting a child in concentration, so I would only do it if it's absolutely necessary.

Last but not the least. This method is very systematic and proved effective.
You could do the 3-step redirect.
1.Acknowledge the feeling (you just want to be on the move, gox, etc),
2.Set the boundary (the toothbrush needs to stay at the sink/in the bathroom)
3.Offer a choice (would you like to stand at the sink to keep brushing, or put the brush down and leave the bathroom?)

As your child grows and gains independence, the clinginess will likely diminish. In fact, you’ll probably long for the days that your little one begged for you to carry him around!