Parenting & Families

My Toddler Always Wants to be Carried, but Now She’s Getting Too Heavy to Constantly be in My Arms. She’ll Often Throw a Tantrum Until I Pick Her Up. What Can I Do?

In every baby’s life, there are only two people – mother and father. In the beginning, mother’s importance is without parallel. She is the first love object and the pattern or model for all other love relations. It is mother who feeds, comforts, loves and in general meets the needs of baby. The one-year-old child has a difficult time seeing mother as separate. This attachment and bonding forms the later structure for security, good self-esteem, and ultimately individuation. It is important for this differentiation to proceed gradually so that the child is gently weaned into the more independent stage of the “terrible twos.” Until that time, however, it is difficult for the child to see himself as different from his mother. The important context of self-definition occurs as the child experiences the affects of his behavior in relation to his mother and her reactions. As the child moves toward autonomy, he will engage in both mental and physical trial and error, both moving toward independence and returning to his sense of security – mother.

Therefore, mother must help her child practice separateness. It is by rehearsing autonomy that a toddler gains a secure sense of self. This diminishes tension, and the child learns first to trust mother, then to trust himself and ultimately to trust the world at large. This journey of self-discovery allows the child to see himself in an individual existence rather than as an extension of his primary parent. Possession is one device that children use to show ownership of their caretaker. After all, if you are mine – I own you. It is at this point that a child may become clingy, and overly attached. Softly shifting the child towards independence leads to a feeling of success. If a toddler continues wanting mother to carry her even though she is too heavy, it is important for mother to employ strategies that encourage independence.

It is important to approach this sensitive stage with empathy, compassion and love. This approach will also keep your nerves in tact as you avoid collisions with the tender heart of your baby. Never order or demand separation. This can only lead to the child’s over investment in holding on. Every parent recognizes the beginning and mounting pitch of a tantrum. Rather childproof your reactions by channeling your child’s feelings in the direction of your desire. Make a game out of walking. Change the subject, if he begins to complain. Change the environment if he focuses on a specific space, and, in general, remember that he is the baby. Don’t get involved in arguing. This can only raise the pitch to an untenable zone, and back you into the corner of no return. Keep a light heart, a playful attitude, and think in terms of distraction when encountering a young child at this stage.