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Whenever I'm alone with my son, we play, have fun, and he even plays alone with his toys for a long time; this also happens when my wife is alone with him.

However, when we are both present, he becomes clingy and doesn't want to play alone. We must be with him almost all the time (at least one of us, not both), even if he doesn't interact with us he wants us sitting in the floor near him. Otherwise, he cries a lot.

He's 1 year and 7 months old.

What could cause this behavior? How can we try to correct it?

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It could be that your child simply feels left out. –  bobobobo Nov 20 '11 at 3:40
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1 Answer 1

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Both of my kids did this when they were that age. It basically boils down to the kiddo does not have your (or your partner's) undivided attention and they want it. There are several ways to cure this behavior, or least I have been told there are. The one that work best for my family was the following procedure...

  • When we all came together we would devote a minute or two of our attention towards each of the children, starting with the youngest. Then we would start an adult conversation and the kids would either continue what they were doing or find something else to do.

  • 9 times out of 10 this worked like a champ. If it did not there was usually something else going on and the kid(s) needed a bit more attention, so we would allow them that.

  • If the extra time did not work either, 99.9% of the time it was a power play from the kids to keep our attention. This would usually lead to secluded time (time out) for the child.

After a while the kids began to understand that my wife and I usually did not need more than 10-15 minutes to discuss whatever it was we needed to talk about, and stopped interrupting all together. If there was something they needed after we talked they would wait their turn. Emergencies aside of course.

My kids are a little older now but the practice of going around the room (usually at the dinner table, we eat early) and sharing a brief summary of the day's events stuck. I look forward to this 30-45 minute period everyday.

The big thing is whatever course of action you take, you have to be consistent. Kids are very smart and if they see a crack in the defenses, they will exploit it :)

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Admirable! I want to do the same in my family. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 13 '11 at 15:18
    
+1 I have the same issue but I haven't tried this one. Brilliant! –  MichaelF May 13 '11 at 18:53
    
You obviously meant "...this worked like a charm." –  Uticensis May 13 '11 at 19:07
    
@Billare Nope, I have been using that idiom most of my life. No idea where it came from. –  Chad May 13 '11 at 19:49
    
Works like a champ and works like a charm are not exactly the same thing,but in North America, I have heard both expressions. The two phrases can have the same meanings but with a subtly different flavor. “Works like a charm” is usually meant to describe success in a smooth, unobtrusive, non-confrontational manner, whereas “works like a champ” is aggressive success, victory, conspicuous dominance. –  abhi May 13 at 19:55
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