Granddaughter has very little interest in toys and is extremely dependent

Question: My granddaughter is 30 months and when she stays with me, I am surprised that she has very little interest in toys. She insists that I am with her all the time and that I play with her.

If I have to cook she hangs on me or interrupts me every minute to be held and hugged. When I sit down with her to play with toys, and with new toys, she does not want to explore the toys with me or alone...she seems to have no interest.

When she stays with me she seems very happy - but when her father comes to pick her up she cries not because she wants to stay with me...quite the opposite, she wants nothing to do with me..she won't even look at me or say goodbye.

I have found out that she is also behaving this way with her mother and she wants her father to take care of her completely.... and it is not that she is starved for his attention because his job gets him home about 3pm each day and he spends plenty of time with her and has since she was born.

Just now the father came by to pick up something, and my granddaughter would not look at me or speak to me, she just screamed and cried while her father and I spoke and she kept trying to leave the house.

Her behavior is very puzzling for me as her experiences at home with me and her grandfather are very safe and caring; our home and our interaction with her is fun, creative and stimulating.

This personal experience with my granddaughter coupled with her rejection of her mother makes me very concerned to understand
what is going on with her development and what might be done to help her be better adjusted, open, inquisitive and less obsessively dependent upon her father.

Does anyone have any insights?

Answer: There are a couple of possibilities for this type of behavior. It is possible that she is simply going through some separation anxiety that can be normal at her age.

She may be looking for comfort from you when he is not there, but really depends on him for comfort. So, when he picks her up she has no need for yours any longer. This is usually more likely with a parent that spends a lot of time with the child and not the opposite.

Another possibility you may want to explore is reviewing information about sensory processing disorder (SPD). There are multiple subtypes of this disorder and it can manifest in a variety of symptoms.

One form of it includes hypersensitivity to stimuli including toys. It can also include cravings for physical contact, such as hugs. The inability to process sensory information adequately can lead to insecurity, which may explain why she is very clingy to her father, as he may be more accomodating to her sensory needs.

The great news is that sensory processing disorder treatment usually includes occupational therapy OT, that if applied early by the age of 3-5 can help to eliminate many symptoms.

If you find the symptoms listed at the above link to fit those of your granddaughter, then you may want to talk to the parents about looking for an occupational therapist in the area to at least evaluate her. However, it is possible that this is a phase she will outgrow.

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