When they’re at home, young children want to be near their parents. While the intensity of need varies with age and personality, between the ages of fifteen months and three years, your child may be more content playing and exploring when you’re close by.
Young children like to be with their parents much of the time, day and night. Often, parents find that their child has an easier time falling asleep if they stay with him, patting his back or keeping him company. In the uneasy moments before sleep, he gains comfort when they’re near.
Your child’s desire to be with you is normal, and the attention he receives from you is essential for his development. As he comes to understand that you’re there even when he can’t see you, and that every time you go away you come back, your child will begin to feel secure and trusting.
Waiting for that to occur, however, can be frustrating, especially when you’re followed by your child, who won’t let you out of his sight. And at times, if your child stays close to you in public or when other adults are visiting, it can be an embarrassment.
Your baby will indicate his need for closeness by reaching out to be picked up. When he can crawl, he’ll follow your voice and crawl to be near you. Later as a toddler, he’ll often carry his toys from room to room to be with you. And although at three or four years old your child may spend time at preschool, day care, or a neighbor’s house, he’ll still prefer to be near you for your attention and involvement when he’s home.
When your child wants to be with you, try to be understanding and accommodate him when possible, knowing that this stage of development is normal. Create spaces and things for him to do in different rooms in your home so that he can happily play near you.
When you have adult guests over, try to anticipate your child’s need for attention. Suggest he draw pictures for the visitors to take home. Place some interesting toys next to your seat so he can play nearby. Such diversions may work, but it’s unrealistic to expect him to leave you entirely alone. If you exclude your child, he may become demanding, silly, or whiny.
But if you partially include him, focusing attention on him at least some of the time, you should be able to talk to your guests without too much interruption. This phase, like many other phases young children go through, is easy to handle with a little patience and understanding.