icon-arrow-down icon icon-arrow-fill-down icon icon-arrow-next icon icon-arrow-prev icon icon-tag-close icon
Encouraging the clingy child to socialize
Q: My 5½-year-old is very outgoing when she’s with one or two friends, but she becomes clingy and unsocial in a larger group. What’s going to happen this fall when she starts kindergarten? She doesn’t know anyone riding the bus, and I know she’ll cry and cling to me at the bus stop. She says she doesn’t want to go because she has enough friends. How can we make the transition less traumatic for her?
Cindy Fishers, IN
A: Make a list of the situations that tend to bother your daughter. We call these “trigger situations” because, in your daughter’s case, they trigger her to become overwhelmed and clingy. Next, try to find some ways for her to practice being in the situations that unsettle her. For example, ride buses with her before school starts. Familiarize her with the school before the first day. Walk around it and, if you can, tour the inside. Bring one of her friends along for support.

Also, take your daughter where there are small crowds, gradually building up to larger crowds. Malls and supermarkets are good places to visit for this kind of practice as the crowds vary depending on the day of the week.

Finally, don’t succumb to the temptation to drive her to school on her first day. Every child has to face a certain amount of anxiety in new situations. If you always try to make life easier for her, you won’t give her a chance to learn how to cope.

Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist