3yr old boy whinny and wants to be held and picked allot!!!

Asked January 14, 2014, 9:39 PM EST

My almost 3 yr old son has been an angel so far, but recently (last 2 weeks) he wants to be picked up and held allot. If it does not happen, he throws a major tantrum which makes him uncontrollable and unreasonable to talk to. The only thing that calms him down at that point is a hug (sometimes a very long one - 30 minutes or more). He has been very independent and pleasure to be around so far and willing to occupy himself easily with play-dough, art projects or stickers, etc. However, recently it has become stressful and not joyful to spend time with him. It is very hard to make him interested in anything. What should I do? Ignore the tantrums, or sooth him the way he wants to be soothed (hug and cuddle time)? I do not want him to think it is OK to act this way but I am not sure if his emotional stage requires extra love and attention now. I should also add I am pregnant and we have been talking about the baby (new sibling) for some 2-3 months now.

Dane County Wisconsin

1 Response

Without knowing everything about your son, I would not be surprised if he is feeling stress, and is expressing that stress through whiny, clinging behavior. Even though the arrival of a new sibling is an exciting and happy occasion, it can be stressful to a young child because his family and his role as the only child will change.

One of my recommendations would be to keep his world as consistent and predictable as possible. Establish and follow regular morning and bedtime routines. Read a familiar book every night. Spend special one-on-one time with him regularly, and allow him to make some simple choices (such as deciding between two outfits or two breakfast cereals). Having established routines and some control over his world are two ways to help your child reduce stress.

I would also recommend that you find positive ways to channel his energy. Activities such as running and climbing, pounding play dough, splashing water, or even cuddling up in a favorite blanket can be soothing and allow him to reduce his stress in productive ways.

You might also consider finding a meaningful way for him to be involved in preparations for the new baby. Have him pick out a few new books that he thinks the baby will like, or encourage him to draw or paint a picture to hang in the baby's room as a gift from him. Some hospitals offer "big brother" classes to prepare siblings for a new baby.

The eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care has a couple of articles that may give you some ideas for dealing with your son's stress. They were written for child care providers and focus on the stresses of military life, but the basic concepts of stress in young children and how to reduce stress are the same, no matter what the source of stress.

Good luck. I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if you need additional information.