How Can I Help My 13-Month-Old Child Become More Independent?

A mom writes in asking for advice on how to help her 13-month-old become more independent. This mom says that her child is “EXTREMELY co-dependent,” which is making things extra difficult, given that she has another child and is pregnant with her third.

Author and mother-of-four Amber Trueblood, MFT, MBA weighs in with advice below.

How Can I Help My 13-Month-Old Child Become More Independent?

Mamas Uncut fan asks:

“How can I help my 13-month-old be more independent? I am currently 39 weeks pregnant with my 3rd and last child. I have a 7-year-old who helps me amazingly and a 13-month-old that is EXTREMELY co-dependent on me. I need some advice on how to break her of this. She cries all the time! If you sit her down she cries. If you give her toys, she doesn’t wanna play with them. She doesn’t watch TV at all. If I walk more than a foot away from her, she screams. If someone other than me (husband, older daughter) feeds her, she pitches a fit. I can’t put her down to go pee without a tantrum. I am a stay-at-home mom, but with me about to have another I’m exhausted and extremely worried about how she’s gonna handle this. Anyone got any tips for me?”

– Mamas Uncut Community Member

More Advice From Amber Trueblood: How Do You Deal with a 4-Year-Old Prone to Uncontrollable Tantrums and Other Attitude Problems? An Expert Weighs In

Advice from Amber Trueblood

How Can I Help My 13-Month-Old Child Become More Independent?

While some children are naturally more attached-at-the-hip than others, I’d definitely recommend meeting first with your pediatrician. Make sure her hearing and vision are working well and that she’s not in any pain. Once it’s clear there are no extenuating physical problems, here are some tips I’d recommend:

1) Try to go to her for physical affection before she comes to you, if at all possible. If you’re able to reverse the dynamic so she’s not always the one following you around, that could help the situation.

2) Try singing songs together or creating another verbal interaction so she can still feel she’s interacting with you even when she’s not in your lap or on your hip.

How Can I Help My 13-Month-Old Child Become More Independent?

3) Compliment even tiny amounts of independent play.

4) So that you don’t lose your mind… whenever you have another adult available to take over, get yourself outside for a 10-15 minute walk around the block on a daily basis. She will learn that you come back and you will get a few minutes to breathe.

Lastly, I’d highly recommend grabbing a copy of Siblings Without Rivalry by Mazlish and Faber – especially with a third baby on the way!

[Images via Shutterstock]

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