WT 055: Will the Attachment Phase Ever Stop?

As moms, we love our kids and love how much they love us. But it's also important to teach them to be independent. On today's episode we talk about children who can't sleep by themselves, when 10 year olds need to start doing thing on their own, and when your sweet toddlers are always at your feet when you're trying to get chores done.

Question 1: My 3-year-old son cannot fall asleep unless I am holding or sleeping with him. He cries for me and needs me to sleep holding him when he wakes up middle of the night. I'm expecting my second child soon and he needs to learn to sleep on his own. Please help.

Karen’s Answer: Oh sweet mom! It can stop and should stop, but now you have to break a habit, which is hard. Since he is three, you can tell him that you are no longer going to be able to hold him until he goes to sleep. You can buy him a big stuffed animal and tell him to grab that when he wants to snuggle.  Remind him he is a big boy, and big boys don’t need mom to rock them to sleep.  There will be tears, probably fits will be pitched, so brace yourself. Better now than when the baby comes.

I had a great pediatrician and he told me with Kelsey to put her in her crib before she feel asleep so she would learn as a baby to put herself to sleep.  He saved me from a lot of hard nights!

Moms on Call has some great resources for this! Question 2:  We are struggling with the next steps of childhood with our son—he is 10 and not showing any desire to be more independent, which is what we ultimately want. What are some ways I can give him the nudge he needs? Karen’s Answer: Give him things to do on his own, around the house.  When he does them, praise him.  As he progresses around the house, start giving him things to do in public, ordering the meal at a fast food place, running into the grocery store to grab milk and pay for it.  Drop him at the mailbox when driving home, tell him to get the mail and then walk up to the house when he’s gotten it.  Little things like these steps make a big difference in building confidence. Encourage your son and help him see his potential.

There's a great book and resources on this, it's called Loving Your Child Too Much: How to Keep a Close Relationship with Your Child Without Overindulging, Overprotecting, or Overcontrolling by Tim Clinton and Gary Sibcy

Question 3: How do I encourage my children to engage in the world, but also guard their hearts and minds from all of the negative images, words and messages in the world?

Karen’s Answer: I think the first step to accomplish this task is to start teaching your child the difference between the world’s ways and God’s ways.  A lot of times, we start these conversations when our children hit those teen years, but we should start them so much earlier. It is lots of conversations, lots of examples and patience.

I did experience this with all my children in so many areas of life:

When my kids would listen to music or like a song, I would tell them what the lyrics really meant and why I didn't feel like they were appropriate. With TV, I had to explain why some shows were too adult. Know your children, start conversations.

Question 4: How do you enforce personal boundaries with a toddler. My little one will play independently, but he is always right at my side or playing near my feet. I feel guilty about not playing with him every second, but I have to get things around the house done and I can't accomplish it all during nap time.

Karen’s Answer:  Set up a baby gate, and set a timer.  Baby gates are good because they can still see you. Talk to them while they are playing so they know you are still around.  Start the timer at 5 minutes and then gradually increase the time. Give your child a project to work on, “Make mommy a snack in your kitchen.” “Draw mommy a picture, or build a tower for me.”

I did all those things I suggested.  You have to gradually grow independence. Teach your child they can do it by themselves and then come back and show you.

Thank you for listening to this episode of the podcast, moms! We know your time is precious. If you have any questions for Karen, leave them in the comments section!