Parenthood is beautiful yet it has many challenges which you get aware of when you face them.
One of the common challenges some parents face is having a 4-year-old child who insists to be carried all the time.
It’s an issue that leaves the parents exhausted, puzzled, and frustrated how can a 4-year-old be carried all the time?
In this blog, I am going to discuss the potential reasons behind a child’s unwavering desire to be carried all the time followed by some strategies to overcome this behavior.
Why would a 4-year-old want to be carried all the time?
- Attention seeking:
Young children of age around 3-4 years often seek attention and demand closeness just to get comfort from their parents.
They would often ask their parents to carry them most of the time because it gives them security, warmth, and comfort.
- Emotional phase:
If your child has recently started to demand being carried all the time then it is possible that he is going through an emotional phase. It could be a developmental stage where he must be feeling clingy, frustrated, or dependent on you.
- Having no friends or siblings:
The kids who don’t have siblings or friends may want to be carried all the time because of laziness. Their parents are their only friends so they want to spend more time with them.
- Feeling tired:
Sometimes a child generally feels tired or physically not comfortable or may not be in the best state of health so he seeks some extra attention and wants to be close to his parents.
- To get a different view:
Being carried gives a different perspective to every child. Some like to be carried all the time because they like to see the world from above, which helps them look and explore more easily.
- Start of preschool:
Usually, 4-year-olds start preschool where they have to be independent. Your 4-year-old might want to be carried all time because he does not like the idea of getting independent hence he wants to be close to you when he comes back from school.
- Thinking of the worst:
A child might want to be carried all the time because he is afraid of his surrounding. If your child has recently started this behavior then closely monitor him and ask him questions about why is he afraid.
What hurdles could it bring to the parent’s life?
1- Carrying a 4-year-old constantly can become physically challenging for the parents. Especially if the child is a bit heavier, it would be physically draining for the parents to hold him while they have other responsibilities.
2- It can resist the parent’s mobility and it will make it challenging for them to do daily tasks like house chores, grocery shopping, and other errands.
3- Constantly holding a 4-year-old in arms can lead to less social interaction. Even if you take your child to someone’s home and he constantly asks you to carry him will make the parent tired after some time and urge them to leave the party as soon as possible.
4- Always carrying a 4-year-old would hinder his physical and emotional growth as well. Continuously being held in the arms of the parents will hinder independent growth, a chance to explore the environment, and the development of the muscles. On the other hand, the child will become overly attached and dependent on the parents which will make it harder for him when he joins the school.
5- There would be constant frustration in the parent’s mood when the child wants them to hold him all the time. Parents also need some space and time to reset their tiredness and mood.
How to comfort a 4-year-old without carrying him?
1- Validate the feelings:
Validate his feelings and acknowledge them with love but at the same time make him understand that he cannot be carried all the time.
There should be a fine line between validating and accepting what the child is demanding.
So use empathetic words like “I know how much you liked to be carried all time because you feel nice and cozy with mama, but now you are a big kid and mama has to do a lot of work around if she carries you all the time who would do all this.”
2- Address the emotional needs:
Most importantly address his emotional needs. Talk to him and try to ask why does he want to be carried all the time. Is he afraid of his surroundings or someone, or does he just do it for comfort?
3- Establishing boundaries:
Establish clear boundaries and communicate them gently.
Tell him that it is nearly impossible to hold him all the time and he needs to be independent.
Also, reinforce that you will be there if he needs any support or help.
4- Suggest Alternatives:
Instead of carrying him upon asking, offer him alternatives like suggest him to hold your hand, offer a hug, or sit near you.
5- Encourage independent behavior:
Whenever he does something independently, encourage and highlight it using words like “I am so proud of you that you have done this independently” or “ I am happy that you can do this by yourself”.
6- Provide a designated area:
Provide him with a designated area where he is comfortable playing.
If he wants to be near to you then give him some toys, books, or any engaging independent play in a space where you can watch him and he can see you too.
Gradually his urge to be carried all the time will reduce.
When your child comes to you asking to carry him, distract and redirect his focus towards something exciting.
You can learn about his interest and have a conversation about it. Suggest him to do something he likes.
This will turn his attention from what he was demanding.
8- Encourage physical activities
Encourage physical activities that promote strength and independence, such as climbing, running, or jumping. These activities can help build their confidence and reduce their need for constant carrying.
9- Improve social interaction:
Take him to the parks, play dates, and community centers where he can mingle with kids of his age.
Kids who usually demand to be carried all the time are the ones who do not want to be social, so provide him opportunities where he can gain some confidence and improves his social interaction.
10- Reward Chart:
Make a reward chart and mark it with stars when you see him doing anything independently and confidently. Set a reward after gaining a certain amount of stars on the chart.