Featured in Pre-schoolers


Regression in behaviors of pre-schoolers can be very common. Often it’s quite a shock to parents when their child starts talking like a baby, starts to have potty accidents again, or even tries to pretend to breastfeed or bottle-feed again. This backslide in behavior can happen when there has been a stress introduced in the pre-schooler’s life or there is a big change in the child’s routine.

Methods of Discipline

Typically regressive behaviors in toddlers isn’t cause for alarm, as long as the behaviors aren’t hurting the child or anyone else. Parents are encouraged to allow their child to explore his or her need of pretending to be a baby while at the same time helping him or her to get through this phase.

1. One method to do this is to uncover the reason why your child has regressed in his or her behavior. Is there a new sibling in the family? This is usually the most common reason for why a child regresses. The new baby in the family is given attention for being cute and unable to do things for him or herself so the pre-schooler may think “Why shouldn’t I try that too? Maybe I’ll get more attention”.

2. Children, including pre-schoolers, like to try on behaviors and watch for the reactions of parents and other caregivers. If they get what they want from a behavior, they are more likely to use that behavior in the future. Now not all the behaviors will be quite so regressive; sometimes they are simply wanting to be cuddled or carried – ways that your child may ask for love. But watch the behaviors you respond to – especially if they are unwanted.

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3. Listen to what your child’s behavior is telling you. Often pre-schoolers do not have the capacity to express their wishes with words so they will use behaviors to tell their parents what they want.

4. Try talking to your pre-schooler about his or her day, what is bothering them and how they are feeling. By brushing off the baby-like behavior, you aren’t getting to the root of the problem; chances are you are just making your child feel bad about how they are feeling.

5. Another easy way to help your child with regression is to shine a spotlight on his or her abilities. Choose to encourage your child’s behavior that you like. Use plenty of compliments when your pre-schooler is doing something that “big boys” or “big girls” do. Often your pre-schooler will choose to behave in ways that will get your attention in a positive way, instead of a negative way.

Helping your child cope

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It is hard as parents to cope with a child who regresses to past or “baby-like” behaviors. As an adult, we can acquire new skills and easily retain things we learn. Younger children though, don’t learn at the same pace and among sudden periods of quick development, can have some periods of little improvement. A pre-schooler may regress in learning, such as with potty training, and can baffle or upset parents. Not to worry, these behaviors will improve with a bit of time. To help your child cope, try to understand the situation from your child’s eyes. Sympathize with your pre-schooler instead of embarrassing or yelling at him or her as this will only make the behavior worse and may result in regression of other behaviors. Discuss with your child what the issue is and come up with ideas together on how to help the child overcome this issue. Don’t wait for the behavior to just go away; instead act on it immediately before it gets too out of hand.

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