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Clingy Child

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To a child it just doesn't feel right to let go!

"You can let go now," she said to the child, whose arms were still encircling her leg.
The brat shook his head and pressed his face against her leg.
Dungeon Keeper Ami, "General Assembly"

Clinginess is a normal and even common behavior found in children. However, this sort of clinginess isn't random or meaningless. A child's constant clinginess to a guardian figure reveals a lot about their personality and feelings. Perhaps the child is shy, affectionate, desperately craves affection, frightened, or has separation anxiety, etc. Whichever the reason is, the child would often hug the leg of their carers, be it their parents or any other family member, out of instinct.

Please note: this is not about a child merely following an adult figure around and bothering them. This involves children's strong physical attachment to an adult figure and what such behavior says about the child.

If portrayed in a positive light, this could be a sign that the child feels safe and protected with their guardian figure enough to cling to them all the time — an indicator of a healthy relationship, where the older person on the receiving end of this usually finds the child adorable and coos at them.

If the child's clinginess is depicted in a negative light, however, this could be a sign of an unhealthy and insecure attachment to their guardian figure. Such portrayals might have the child be an Attention Whore who demands affection all the time.

Naturally, since this is Truth in Television, Wikipedia has an informative article on this topic.

Compare with Children Are Innocent if their general clinginess represents their innocence. Contrast with Affection-Hating Kid. Not related to Leg Cling, which involves a Stock Pose where a woman is clinging to the leg of a man in movie posters. May overlap with Security Cling if the child is scared. The child may even beg the adult not to leave them while desperately clinging to them. No relation to Clingy Jealous Girl either.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bunny Drop: Daikichi is invited to an after-work party, and he brings his adopted daughter Rin along. As the two enter the room where the party is underway, Rin sees many grown people around the table, convivial and conversing. Rin hides behind Daikichi's leg, unsure about these strange, new people. It also reminds her of that sad day when Daikichi's relatives had gathered around a table to discuss Rin's fate, with "dump" and "orphanage" being bandied about. Rin is eventually lured out when she sees one of Daikichi's coworkers brought her infant son (Rin loves younger kids).
  • Momo of March Comes in Like a Lion is three years old and has a habit of clinging to the adults around her to express her love and gratitude to them.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Kanna Kamui is a young dragon who ends up living with the protagonists, Kobayashi and Tohru. Her clinginess comes from being neglected by her own parents for years, and thus she's always looking for her two caretakers to be more affectionate to her, like napping on their laps or wanting to tag along with them to work. As Kobayashi and Tohru both give her far more attention than her parents did, she loses her clingy tendencies after a while.
  • The cover page of chapter 166 of My Hero Academia shows Shoto, who was an incredibly shy child, on his way to school with his parents, Rei and Enji, in which he's only clinging to his mother's leg as he's closer to her than his father.
  • In Spy X Family, when Twilight first adopts Anya, she clings to his leg until he takes her with him when he goes shopping because of her fear of abandonment.

  • Migrant Mother is a black-and-white photograph taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936 in a Californian migrant workers' camp. The sitting woman cradles a baby wrapped in a ragged blanket on her lap, while two older children stand on either side of her, their backs turned away from the photographer. Their faces are hidden, and their hands cling to their mother's shoulders and upper arms out of fear and shyness.

    Fan Works 
  • Bridge to Terabithia 2: The Last Time: The youngest Aarons sister, seven-year-old Joyce-Ann, is constantly shown clinging to her older siblings, mostly her only brother Jess, but also one scene during the botched Thanksgiving Easter Egg hunt scene when the Aarons' obnoxious cousin, Nicholas, is throwing a temper tantrum over some minor fault, and Joyce-Ann who is about to cry clings closely to her second sister Brenda.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In "General Assembly", a child clings to the person who rescued him from menacing goblins, even though she's a member of an evil race:
    "You can let go now," she said to the child, whose arms were still encircling her leg.
    The brat shook his head and pressed his face against her leg.
  • Junior Officers: In "Happy Birthday, Kitsune", when Kitsune shows up in the kitchen for her surprise birthday dinner, her son Ichiro runs over and hugs her legs because he's so excited to see her.
  • The Simpsons: Team L.A.S.H.: Simon Skinner-Chalmers, towards his dads. He's always following his "Principal Dad" and/or "Superintendent Dad" around like a lost puppy.
  • This And That: During her preteen years, Powder tends to warp her arms completely around Angela, usually clinging tight on her, whenever she hits a big mood, good or bad. This is a habit she kept in her later years.

    Films — Animation 
  • An animal version in Bambi: Bambi hides behind his mother's hind legs whenever he feels shy.
  • Curious George: When George sees a kid clinging to his father's leg, George, who started to like his owner Ted, gets an idea and clings to Ted's leg, imitating the kid.
  • Despicable Me: When Agnes first meets Gru, she hugs his leg and refuses to let go due to her excitement. Gru even asks if he can get a crowbar.
  • Madagascar: Mort (who, according to Word of God, is an adult who acts childish) clings to King Julien's ankles when he's frightened by the Zoo Crew. Julien is annoyed by this and tells him to get off "the royal feet." In the spinoff series The Penguins of Madagascar and All Hail King Julien, this is Flanderized to Mort having an unnatural attachment to Julien's feet.
  • In the last scene of Mother for a Little Mammoth, the little mammoth, terribly afraid to get lost again, grasps his new adoptive mother's tail, and they continue walking through the forest like this.
  • Rio: Several of Rafael's kids grab onto their father and a few even hang from his beak because they are so happy to see him.

  • A Christmas Carol has the Ghost of Christmas Present counsel the miser Scrooge. Near the end of his hour, this ghost pulls aside his robes to reveal two sullied and surly children clinging to his legs. "The boy is Ignorance. The girl is Want. Beware them both, but especially the boy."
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In "Old School", Greg mentions that the extremely neurotic Julian was the type to get extra upset whenever he was dropped off at school. One time, he clung to his mother so tightly that it took several staff members to pry him off her.
  • Fudge: In "Superfudge", Peter announces that he's going to leave home after he hears that his mother's going to have another baby. Fudge clings to his leg, tearfully begging him not to leave. Peter tries to shake him off, but he won't let go.
  • Sherlock Holmes: "The Sussex Vampire" has Mr. Ferguson's disabled son who glomps his father with girlish enthusiasm. It's a clue that he's the attempted murderer, since he hated his new, uncrippled half-brother for taking his father's attention away from him.

    Video Games 
  • In The Sims 4, one of the personality traits a toddler can have is 'clingy,' depicted by a koala holding tightly to a branch. Clingy toddlers like to stick close to their parents and get especially upset when they have to leave for some reason.
  • In Slow Damage, Hayato seems very fond of his pediatrician Asakura, who's said to be Friend to All Children, and it's even indicated that he lives with him. It's a negative portrayal of clinginess as it's heavily implied that Hayato is so love-starved for any storgal affection that his behavior (plus the frequent touching) can come across as strange and almost 'seducing', with this playing into the rumors of Asakura being a paedophile.
  • In WarioWare Gold, after you beat Young Cricket's stage, the following cutscene shows Lulu, a young girl, clinging to Cricket's shoulder due to having a Precocious Crush on him. Master Mantis points this out to Cricket, saying that he's "picked up a passenger", with Cricket immediately shocking Lulu by calling her a "little girl" afterwards.

    Western Animation 
  • Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot: Wonderheart often announces, "Care hug!" and gives people big hugs. In "Welcome to Grump-a-Lot", she clings to Grumpy when he's trying to watch a Honey Ball game on TV and refuses to get off, resulting in him missing the winning shot.
  • Family Guy: In "Stewie Loves Lois", Lois repairs Stewie's beloved teddy bear and cooks him his favourite meal, causing him to become overly attached to her. Stewie is later seen clinging to Lois' face as she takes him to his crib, suggesting that his demands for attention have left her too exhausted to carry him with her own arms.
  • Parodied in the pilot episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Terrence, Mac's older brother, clings to his mother's leg out of defense when she comes home, claiming Mac was bullying him, though it is obviously the other way around.
  • "Come Back, Mama" from PB&J Otter involves Baby Butter becoming very clingy to her mother Opal when she learns that she has to go away for the day. Big sister Jelly and big brother Peanut teach her the "Come Back, Mama" song to help her to see that just because she goes away doesn't mean she won't be back.
  • The Simpsons: In "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish", Maggie clings affectionately to Mr. Burns' leg. Burns, having apparently never seen a baby up close, reacts as if he's being attacked by a wild animal.


Video Example(s):


Afraid to Lose Mommy

The orphaned baby mammoth is adopted by the she-elephant but is afraid to lose her too, so he ends up grasping her tail and following her like that.

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