Do you feel like your kids are regressing since the pandemic started? Children often respond to stress by taking a step back developmentally. It’s no wonder such behavior becomes widespread when their daily routines are interrupted.
You’re probably having a similar experience, although the effects may be more subtle. Stress interferes with learning, memory, and decision making.
For children, this may mean trouble sleeping through the night or forgetting their toilet training. They may also be clingy and prone to tantrums.
These different reactions have one thing in common: Your children are asking for your reassurance and support. Punishment and pressure are likely to backfire, so try these gentler steps instead.
Dealing with Regression in General:
- Be kind. Empathize with the changes and losses your child is going through. Validate their experience. They’ll probably need to express their feelings before they can cooperate with efforts to behave more maturely.
- Create routines. Help your child to take back control. Give them choices for structuring their day. Maybe you can read extra bedtime stories and go for a walk each morning after breakfast.
- Take breaks. Are you and your child becoming more frustrated lately? Avoid power struggles by building more downtime into your schedule. Enjoy quiet activities and relaxation.
- Move around. On the other hand, physical exercise relieves stress too. Play badminton in your backyard. Practice yoga together in your living room or at your local park.
- Enjoy nature. Just spending time outdoors can make you feel happier. Eat meals on your patio. Do yard work together. Small children can pick up sticks and water plants using lightweight containers.
- Provide a role model. Your mood affects your child. Staying calm and cheerful will help them to feel more resilient too.
- Ask your pediatrician. Talk with your child’s doctor about any concerns you have. They can provide more suggestions and run tests to rule out medical issues if necessary.
Dealing with Regression in Specific Situations:
- Enforce bedtimes. Think twice before letting your child stay up late or spend the night in your bed. You may create habits that will be difficult to break. Instead, help them to feel more comfortable in their room. Check in on them more often and get a cute night light.
- Buy pull-ups. You might need to take a few weeks off from toilet training. Be matter of fact about cleaning up any accidents and avoid using language that could embarrass your child.
- Hang out. Is your child demanding more of your attention? It’s probably okay to accommodate their needs and stick closer to them temporarily. The sooner they feel more secure, the sooner they’ll want their independence again.
- Eat together. Emotional eating can be tempting at any age. Dining as a family will help you to maintain a balanced diet and give you opportunities for daily conversation. Talk about nutrition and prepare healthy meals and snacks together.
- Speak clearly. Baby talk can be another sign of regression. Let your child know that it’s easier for you to communicate with them when they use grown up language. Praise them for cooperating.
- Review lessons. Many experts are concerned that school closures will explode academic achievement gaps. Monitor your child closely to ensure that they’re studying and completing assignments. Talk with their teacher if you need additional resources.
Whether it’s triggered by a virus or a new baby brother, regressive behavior is likely to fade away over time. Meanwhile, you can help your child to cope by pulling together as a family and creating a strong sense of connection.