My 4yo daughter loves to do things with me. I'm pretty sure this is normal for a kid her age. She follows me around the house (when she's not at preschool) participating in chores, helping me with whatever I'm doing, and with a non-stop stream of questions. I love this about her.

The problem comes when she needs to do something separately from me. For example, go to the bathroom. She'll state she needs to go, and run off to do so, only after instructing me (she's an only child) to 'not do anything until I'm back!'. Because she can't stand to miss out on anything 'interesting' that mamma is doing in her absence.

Another example, she's engrossed in a toy and I need to pop downstairs to get something. She will absolutely throw a fit if I don't wait for her to finish what she's doing and let her come down with me for the 1 min I'm downstairs.

For the most part, I try to accommodate her as best I can, but I do emphasise that sometimes I need to do things on my own (as interesting as they may be) and she needs to respect my boundaries that there are some things that I can choose to do on my own. This results in a tantrum. Previously when she was younger I was accustomed to letting those work their course, but now that she's older and they're less common, I wonder if there's a better way that I can use to work with her.

Is there anything else I can do to help her work through this fear of missing out? I don't think it's really a separation issue (she'll be happy to be separate from me if I'm doing something she considers 'boring').

1 Answer 1


When my kids were very young, we were home on a Saturday and I was ready to take the kitchen garbage to the outside bin, and I looked at my kids in the Living Room and they were both engrossed in activities, so I took the garbage out.

I was outside for maybe 45 seconds, and then opened the door to go back in, and was greeted by both of my children standing just inside the door, both looking a bit worried. In the time it took me to walk to and from the outside garbage bin, they had covered half of the length of our house.

From then on I would invite them to come with me to the outside garbage bin, and at first they would walk with me. After about 10 times of going with me, I would invited them, and they declined. They declined because they had learned everything they needed to know about what I meant when said that I was taking the garbage out.

Then, instead of inviting my kids to come with me, I started announcing to the house that I was about to go to the outside garbage bin. I would announce this in such a way that I knew that my kids heard me. If they wanted to come with me, they knew that that would be OK, and they knew that it was also OK if they continued their own activity.

That was the start of my program to announce to the house what I was doing and where I was going. By announcing to the house, my kids could keep track of where I was and what I was doing, without having to ask me, or follow me, as I went about my Saturday activities.

You might try announcing your activities to your house after letting your daughter know that you're making this change.

You could explain to your daughter that you're announcing what you're doing next, because you want her to know where you're going and what you're doing, so she can decide to come with you, or not, and whatever she chooses is OK.

By announcing to the house you provide a running narrative of your activities which may reduce your daughter's need to follow you. When she knows what you're doing and where you're going in the house, before you actually start your next activity, this warning gives her time to make her choice, to join you, or continue her own activity.

Announcing to the house was a strategy for communicating in our family that worked well for my kids and me. You might try announcing to the house for a few days, and see if anything changes.

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