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HELP! - my toddler spends out music class wanting to be picked up or hiding behind me

It's always delightful to see toddlers enjoying a music class with no inhibitions. They rock in time, smile and interact with the teacher and parent and have the best time.

This is not the case for all toddlers though. Sometimes toddlers can be very clingy, sticking to the parent and not wanting to interact with the teacher and other children in the group.

If this is your experience of music class or group activities then this article is for you.

Firstly, you are not alone. It is very normal. However if you don't have a strategy for breaking the cycle of picking them up and clinging to you it will be hard to avoid carrying them around all the time, which just increases their dependency.

Don't give up and quit music class before giving some of these tips a try. Afterall, one of the reasons you are probably attending the music class in the first place is to develop and foster social development and group socialisation.

Think ahead and talk about your next music class and what is going to happen:

  • Don't under estimate how much your toddler can understand you - they can comprehend a lot but keep your message and instructions simple.

  • Discuss your music class and how much you enjoy it when she participates and has fun with you in the class.

  • Discuss that your music class together is a fun activity for you both and how great it is that you get to stay and play as well.

  • Discuss the dancing activities and how hard it is to dance when you have to pick her up and that maybe this week you could try the dancing activities holding hands instead.

  • Try some of the dancing songs that require her to dance by herself at home and praise her if she dances next to you rather than holding on to you.

  • Discuss some kind of reward for after class if you can get through the class together without her clinging or crying. eg watch fav TV show after class, get to read a book together, go for a baby chino?

In the class:

Just before class starts remind her that you are staying and ask her if you can dance and have fun together. Remind her of the reward you discussed.

Have a strategy for when she clings to you in class and stick to it:

  • Crouch down so you’re on her level.

  • If your child is clinging to you, gently put some space between you and her.

  • Continue with the activity/song and smile

If this fails and she crys:

  • Look her in the eye, and calmly ask her to stop crying because you would really like to do the class with her.

  • If she continues to cry, leave the circle/activity or room calmly so you can deal with the situation calmly. (IMPORTANT: carry out of the room to gently put her down to talk with her once outside)

  • Explain that you had to leave the group and activity because she’s crying but you would like to continue the class with her. This is the hard part and it’s difficult to resist when your child cries to be cuddled. Firmly but gently emphasize that you’re still there if she needs you, even though you’re not picking her up.

  • Once your child has calmed down, give her plenty of praise and a hug, but don’t pick her up and hold her hand and re-enter the class together.

  • If you do successfully re-enter the class and manage to get her to continue without wanting to be picked up - PRAISE ALL THE WAY

Good luck and I hope these tips help you prepare for another fun term of music classes.

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