How To Help Your Kids Act Their Age.
by Susie E. Caron 7/7/2014
All children fall into regressive behaviors from time to time, and behave like a younger version of themselves. These include behaviors the child had outgrown such as baby talk, wanting to be diapered, bottle fed, held, or rocked. Sometimes regression includes whining, and throwing tantrums. In school aged kids regression presents more as clinging, insecurity, and fears.
Sometimes, adults hardly notice, or perhaps the behaviors don’t last long enough to become problematic. However, parents become concerned when regression in their preschool or elementary aged kid becomes annoying or persistent.
This Does NOT Help.
While it may seem natural to scold or even necessary to say to the child, “Please act your age," and add, you are a big girl/boy now.” That is actually the opposite of what you should do if you want the behaviors to stop.
There is an underlying reason that kids fall back to younger behavior patterns, but actual causes for regression vary. Sometimes, it is due to the introduction of a new baby sister or brother. Often regression shows up right before children are scheduled to go to school, or move into the next grade. Regression can accompany family transitions, holidays, and stressors, when adults are pre-occupied with decision making. The actual cause doesn't matter. Here's the underlying reason for regression in childhood.
"Children only regress because they NEED to regress for a while."
That’s right! Regression is actually important for children’s sense of well-being and feelings of safety and security. In effect,
"They fall back to jump forward developmentally."
Here's how parents can reduce regression in children.
So, what should a parent do when children regress? I understand that regression can be concerning, annoying and embarrassing sometimes and in some environments for the parents. The following suggestion usually helps reduce the duration of the regressive behaviors by quite a lot.
If you want to shorten the time in regression, or possibly stop the behaviors do this:
"Move into the regression’ with the child."
That's correct: You need to agree with your child. In effect, if the child acts younger, respectfully agree to treat them younger. That means, if the child talks baby talk, say in sincerity, “Oh do you want to be my baby for a while? OK, let me rock you.” If there whines or tantrums, do whatever you did when your child was younger. If your child is acting younger prior to going to school, offer more nurturing, cuddling, reading together times, etc. If your child makes an unreasonable request, like a previously well potty trained 5 year old wanting to be diapered, you could respond by saying something like this: “I hear you saying you want a diaper too, but that’s not something I want you to do. Instead you can pick another way to be like my baby again.”
The main point is that your child is seeking reassurance and nurturing whenever he/she regresses into younger behavior. Being kind and reassuring usually takes care of the issue. If, however this does not help within a couple weeks, you may want to speak with a therapist, your doctor or pastor for more assistance.
Did you find this article helpful? I'd love to hear from you.
What do you do to help your child?
Why not take a second and leave me a comment below. Thank you!
Twee' Means You and Me
Susie E. Caron
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!