Clingy twins

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  April 2, 2010 06:00 AM

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Hi Barbara --

I am a mom of twin girls just under one year old. Within the past few days, one of the girls has become very clingy and attaches herself to my husband or me when we come home from work or even when we simply return to the room after we have left. If we try to put her down, she locks her legs and cries, grabbing onto us. I very much understand that this is a typical phase in infant/toddler development, but my question is: how do I deal with it in the moment? Do I comfort? Do I put her down and walk away? Thanks for your help!

From: Mom of twins, Ma

Dear Mom of twins,

At this age, absolutely offer comfort. This is a time of separation anxiety -- if you leave me, will you come back -- and it can be scary for a baby to have mom or dad be stern. When you are are able to quickly give her what she needs -- hugging her, rocking her, soothing her -- you are meeting her emotional need which translates in her little brain to something like this: "Mom/dad  understands me; she gets me." That means she will be able to get over it and move on more quickly.

Even though they are still quite young, keep in mind that twins are always vying for your attention. So another thing to do is make a point of having exclusive mom/dad time with each baby, and label it: "This is Mom's Time with X," and "This is Mom's Time with Y." It just needs to be a few minutes, literally, but if you start when they are young and give them each undivided time alone (reading a book, drawing together, something simple) with you where they aren't competing for your attention from either their twin or the phone or dinner prep, it will cut down on them using bad behavior (what we call negative attention) to get your attention. Because they know they always have access.

Keep in mind that this is a stage. It will pass faster when you give them what they need. Don't equate this to spoiling them. This is coming from a developmental insecurity. At this age, it is not manipulative behavior.

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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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