It is very natural for our infants and toddlers to go through phases of being clingier to those closest to them. Even though at times it can seem rather special, for that short phase the reality is the more we can raise our children to feel competent in stepping out and exploring, knowing that we are always there for them, the less we will see of this clingy separation anxiety behaviour. For those parents who have not mastered this balance just yet they can be driven to despair when trying to achieve any given task having to juggle it with their child constantly on their hep and wanting to be pick up all the time. This is when the Off The Hip Technique can be incredibly useful in teaching a child that we are there for them in every way without having to be literally attached to them.
It’s all too easy to get into the habit of picking up our children constantly because it is a natural reflex to do so, for all the times they have held their hands out wanting to be picked up. Then on top of that we do it for all the reasons we want to in being just close and attached to our children. The truth of the matter remains in the fact that our children must learn to become more independent and self-sufficient on their own, knowing that we are there for them, watching them play from the side-lines but not necessarily needing to join in when they are playing with their little friends at a play group for example.
Weaning you little one off your hip is more than creating independence, it’s enabling them to walk down stairs on their own, to hold your hand in a shop, to play whilst you cook, and for them and to feel safe and entertained all in the vision of you doing household tasks. Let’s not forget the ability of being able to do this is of great achievement. Forex the first day of nursery, going over to grandparents for the afternoon, or being dropped off for a play date. See below on how to achieve this.
Steps to Hop Off the Hip
- Crouch down so you’re on your child’s level able to give them eye contact.
- If your child is desperately trying to cling to you, and is climbing up on you, gently put some space between you and them by using your arms as a soft barrier.
- Explain to your child kindly and in a conversational tone that you need to do your tasks and right now are unable to pick them up. But tell them they can watch you and bring in some toys and books that they can be distracted with. (This doesn’t mean that they will play with them.)
- If they continue to cry, explain calmly that you can’t understand what they are trying to tel you because they are crying. This can be difficult because our instinct is to cuddle when they are crying but, know the crying is coming from not being picked up.
- Slowly but gently emphasize you are still here even though you are not picking them up and that everything is okay! Reassurance is important, being apologetic is not what you want to be as it gives the child a mixed message.
- If your child is older you may want to suggest they watch you from a little stool, or a table where you can have them busy doing things like putting carrots into a pot. Please know that if you remain clam this state will actually reassure your child there is no need to panic and it will just be a matter of seeing you in the home but not always being attached to your hip.
- Once the crying has stopped make sure that you acknowledge exactly how good they did handling the situation. Be descriptive, ‘good job’ never tells them anything.
Note: Please remember that applying this technique is to help your child to become more confident in their self-sufficiency, without the need to be physically attached at all times. However, emotional comfort, illness, new surroundings, new people, will always make our children feel apprehensive and this is the time when they do need those cuddles and reassurance until it all becomes familiar. You will be the best judge in knowing the difference.
Copywritten by Jo Frost