We have a 3-year-old son. During the last few months we have observed him being strongly attached to his mom. Wherever he goes, he needs his mom. He cries like crazy at any time he notices she is not with him. He wants his Mom all the time. He cries if she is not there for even a second.

I am worried about him. Is there a way to help him function even without his mother some of the time?

Please share your experience.

  • 1
    Separation anxiety is pretty common and comes and goes. If you are concerned can you talk to a pediatrician?
    – justkt
    Aug 9, 2012 at 18:50
  • 1
    You mention that this is recent. Did something new happen (relocation, new baby)? If something major has happened, your son is looking for Mom as a reconnection to stability. In that case, it's just a phase if your son has a secure attachment. Have Mom spend extra cuddle time when she is around.
    – Rhea
    Aug 11, 2012 at 7:25

3 Answers 3


Some people believe in attachment theory quite strongly, and would apply it to this type of case.

If your child has an insecure attachment, the best approach is to try and secure that attachment. Make sure that you are not expecting your child to grow up too quickly.

  • When mum has to go, she has to go, just step in there and try and comfort your little one as much as possible (don't shout or guilt or shame or convince your child to be quiet).
  • Make sure you are honest with the child about when mum is leaving and coming back, even if the water works will start. Honest conversation will help the child learn what is happening and that it is ok
  • When mum can be around, make sure she and the other adults in the household are as gentle and respectful as possible. The last thing you want is for the child to understand that mum is the only nice one available and that when she leaves, the child is vulnerable somehow.

Hope that helps - it's just one perspective.

  • 5
    I would add one idea: mom could try getting him used to being without mom for short, then gradually longer periods. I.e. mom says "I need to leave for a minute, I will be right back". And she comes back right after a minute. Then later, increase the time to 5, 15... minutes. The point is for mom to always tell before leaving that she would be away for some time, and then come back as promised. This may help securing her and building up her trust. Aug 27, 2012 at 13:15

I agree with Henry, you need to make sure that someone is there that is compassionate towards the child to ensure he is comforted when mom isn't around.

One thing that I did for my little guy was let him carry around a picture of him and mom together. When he would start crying I would let him know that mom had to go to work and would be home before he went to bed and asked him where his picture was.

  • Having picture of Mom and kid is a good idea. I will definitely try it out. Thanks Greg!
    – meetpd
    Aug 10, 2012 at 3:57

Well, I have no easy answer for you.

Just remember that crying is only a child expressing his opinion. It's up to YOU to decide if that opinion is correct or not and whether it deserves attention.

Of course, responding to crying is BUILT INTO us biologically and can't be ignored. But your logical brain should always trump biology.

Your job as a parent is to decide IF anything should be done about a cry, and then either do it and see what happens... Or... You know, just grin and bear it... It's what we parents have to do...:)

So try not to respond instantly to a cry. It's pretty difficult to do, but you've got to use your logic, not just always cave to your biology...:)

At 3, your son should be walking. He should be exploring more things than just his Mom. Make the little guy walk to GET to Mom. Stuff like that. But, really, nobody but you and your wife can truly answer that question :) Good luck to ya !

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