My 4 year old daughter has been getting very clingy with her Mum lately, getting to the point of her breaking down every half hour or so when Mum is not around, completely inconsolable. Her nursery have been concerned too. My ex has insisted nothing's happening at home that might be causing it, so both the nursery and myself had been at a loss at what to do.
I've now found out that my ex and her partner of 3 years have separated. And from what my daughter has been telling me lately: arguments at home, symbolic nightmares, it makes sense that that's what has triggered the sudden clinginess.
Knowing this gives me a better sense of how to approach these emotional break downs, but I'd be interested to know if anyone has any approaches or ideas they could recommend.
I think you may well be right and that the separation of your Ex and her partner has triggered this "sudden clinginess" in your daughter causing her to feel very insecure. He was present in her life for approximately 75% of the time. She may be literally clinging to her mother or wanting to be in sight of her to make sure she doesn't leave her, such is the workings of a child's mind.
I personally would give her lots of love and cuddles (which I'm sure you do anyway), be patient and reassuring, listen to what she has to say and at appropriate times you can say to her things like "Daddy's always going to be here." "What shall we play when you come home to Daddy next time." "Daddy loves you very much." I think reassurance from you will increase her confidence at this particular time and make her feel more secure. If her Mother could do the same it would lessen the trauma your daughter is feeling at present as she would be getting a double dose of reassurance and security.
I think in conversation with your daughter you can enter her world by asking about her nursery, such as "what did you do today," "what is the thing you like best?" "Who do you like at nursery?" Do you have a special friend?" Very often beginning a light hearted conversation of this sort can lead to a child expressing other concerns or fears they may have.
I would hope that with patience and the Mother working with you that the "clinginess" would gradually disappear.
Thanks for this. This is the approach I have taken and it seems to be working well. My daughter seems a lot happier just knowing what's happened between her mum and her mum's partner. I think being left in the dark and hearing/seeing them fight, worrying that (in her eyes) someone is hurting her mum has caused the clingyness. some of it is still there, but hopefully it will fade.