Is regressing during the summer normal? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 07-29-2010, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been having quite a difficult time with my 4.5 yr old DS (he'll be 5 in early October, and will start Kindergarten in the fall). A little background on him:

He's a really bright, sensitive kid who LOVES being read to/learning to read, doing art projects, and is great at independent, highly imaginative play. Compared to other kids his age that I've seen, he's usually pretty cooperative and reasonable (his toddler years were relatively painless). He has a younger brother who turned 2 in May and they're really close and have a lot of fun together. When DS2 was born there wasn't the big rough transition that I was expecting, but then again we had done a lot of preparation with him before the birth and he seemed to do really well with having a new baby in the family.

Last year was his first year of preschool (pre-K) and he did wonderfully! His teachers were pleased with him and there was no difficult adjustment period. He always seemed happy to go to school in the morning and made some good friends while he was there.


OK, so now here's what's happening:

Ever since school ended for the summer, he's been home with me (I'm a SAHM) and his younger brother. He has been much more difficult than normal and is exhibiting regressive behavior, mostly emotionally. For instance, he needs TONS of attention, constantly saying "Mommy, watch this!" or "Mommy, look at what I'm doing" the entire time he's playing. He's become a lot more whiny and pouts in a very exaggerated way when he doesn't get what he wants (complete with lots of "it's not FAIR!") And the most distressing is a big increase in fear issues; he's basically afraid to be in a room by himself and wants me to come with him to the bathroom or be in the room with him while he's getting dressed. And most difficult of all is bedtime, when he insists that he cannot get to sleep unless I'm in the room with him (this is a kid who has been falling asleep independently since he was 1). If I don't stay in the room with him, he cries and calls out for me and begs me to stay. Other fears are ones that he had when he was younger, but they're coming back, such as walking down a flight of stairs or going down the ladders on the jungle gym.

I feel conflicted about how to handle this. On the one hand, I want to be supportive, loving and there for him as he goes through what is obviously a challenging phase (at least I hope it's a phase!) for him. But it is also extremely draining, and I've got my 2 yr old to look after as well, and sometimes I fear that if I cater to him too much it will just allow it to continue and become more ingrained.

So what I'm wondering is, is this normal stuff for summer, when many kids have a change in their daily routine? I asked him once if he missed school, and he simply said "no". I've been coming up with lots of fun stuff for us to do during the day, such as going to museums, the zoo, having picnics, doing playdates with kids he really likes, etc. I'm just wondering if there's something I'm missing or not doing that could help ease things a bit.

Sorry if this is long; it felt good just to get it all out!

Thanks,

Jennifer
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#2 of 9 Old 07-30-2010, 03:06 AM
 
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no it wont be ingrained.

these are phases. and age appropriate.

the fears. has his imaginary play suddenly gone up a lot? being scared as they make a leap in imagination is a normal thing.

acting like a baby - omg totally age appropriate too. my almost 8 year old does it too at times. not quite as often as at 5.

its not fair and more whiney - again age appropriate. i am also thinking his demand for attention has risen perhaps because he was used to his playmates when he was in ps.

i think its a phase. no you are not doing anything wrong.

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#3 of 9 Old 07-30-2010, 03:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jenveg618 View Post
and sometimes I fear that if I cater to him too much it will just allow it to continue and become more ingrained.
No, don't believe this! This is just society's idea that we have to get our kids independent long before they are ready. I think your child's behavior sounds exactly like a four year old. Four can be a very difficult age, and the fact that the toddler years were easy is no prediction of 4. If it were my child, I would listen to him, and believe and trust in him and know that he must be telling me what he needs. And that if I listen and open myself up to it, I can meet his needs and help him through this time.

I would also just check in with myself about health too, like if there could be anything going on like food sensitivities, etc.

Have you ever seen this site? Signing up for the Daily Groove, which is a very short email once a day, is an excellent perspective-giving tool that can help me just relax and look at the big picture:

http://www.enjoyparenting.com/get-your-daily-groove
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#4 of 9 Old 07-31-2010, 01:47 AM
 
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My 5yo just went through a phase of being terrified of being in any room alone. It was really prominent when he wanted to be inside doing legos and his brother and I were out in the backyard. And also at bedtime-if he had to run to the potty or get a drink of water he wouldn't walk through the house alone. It seems like he's outgrowing it now and it really only lasted a couple months or so.

Lisa, mama to A (3/05) and R (11/07) and L (8/10)
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#5 of 9 Old 07-31-2010, 07:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by meemee View Post
no it wont be ingrained.

these are phases. and age appropriate.

the fears. has his imaginary play suddenly gone up a lot? being scared as they make a leap in imagination is a normal thing.

acting like a baby - omg totally age appropriate too. my almost 8 year old does it too at times. not quite as often as at 5.

its not fair and more whiney - again age appropriate. i am also thinking his demand for attention has risen perhaps because he was used to his playmates when he was in ps.

i think its a phase. no you are not doing anything wrong.
TFP! My 3 1/2 year old is doing all of these things too. It didn't occur to me that the increase her imaginative play would increase her fears but that makes perfect sense. I think they do go through several "I want to be a baby again" phases on the way to maturity.
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#6 of 9 Old 08-01-2010, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the feedback; sometimes it's just helpful to hear that your child is being normal!

Another thing I forgot to mention is that he also used to be extremely outgoing/social with strangers. For instance, when someone (like an adult he knew) would say hi to him, he'd look them in the eye, give them a bright smile and say "hi" back. Now if the same thing happens, he often won't say hi back unless I gently remind him that so-and-so said hi to him and to say hello back. I've noticed this with a couple of other boys his age, so I'm wondering if this is also a normal phase. It almost seems sometimes like teenager-like behavior. I also have to remind him more to say please and thank-you, even though when he was younger he did it all on his own. If this is normal, why do they act this way and is there anything I can do about it?

He has been a little better the past few days re. playing independently and not being as whiney, so that's been nice.
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#7 of 9 Old 08-01-2010, 01:25 PM
 
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mama check out this series. it is my bible for parenting older kids. it was written in the 60s so much of it you may not agree with it. but all the stuff of what exactly goes on with our children is dead on.

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Four-Year.../dp/0440506751

yes yes yes. that is age appropriate to. as a general rule you will keep seeing changes - in sleep pattern, food, behaviour and growth spurts.

plus right on. i have always found 3 onwards it was teenage behaviour.

there will come a stage btw 5 and 7 when their 'horrible' behaviour will peak. it will be at their absolute worst. its their childhood 'angst'. its something i learnt from IRL mothers and kids rather than read in a book. because of hormonal changes - dd got body odor, moody extreme behaviour and a nightmare. so be prepared. its going to be your biggest challenge in parenting. and for our children their worst time. those who do remember from 5 told me it was worst than being a teenager. it was v. painful too. i was soo grateful i found this out when my dd was going thru it, and even tho it was v. frustrating for me i was able to still find compassion and be there for dd - most of the time. not all.

whiney, babyhood, hitting, throwing food - yup that's what 5s are all about. their last connection with babyhood before they all grow up.

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#8 of 9 Old 08-01-2010, 04:36 PM
 
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I have seen a lot of the same things that you describe in my four-and-a-half year old during the summer holiday.

He's more shy around people, aggressive towards me, worried about being upstairs or downstairs alone, doesn't listen or answer when we try to talk to him...

I have thought that it was due to being away from home (with grandparents), with too many different (fun) things going on all the time, and our routines basically changed or gone. He gets stressed easily, and usually likes to spend a lot of time at home playing by himself.

Or that he has a lot of things to work on with us when he has us at his disposal for four weeks without kindergarten and work. I believe that some parts of growing up have to happen with the parents, not in kindergarten, and I think we always see a lot of "regression" during holidays.

And partly the age. I have always found four a more challenging age, in different ways with each child.

Still I have been a little worried and stressed, I am glad to see that I am not the only person experiencing this.
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#9 of 9 Old 08-01-2010, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's funny, I've heard some parents say that they love 5, that it's the best age so far with their child. I guess in my experience so far I've seen a pattern where the half-years (like the current 4 1/2) are more difficult, and after he turns a new age things calm down a bit. Hopefully that's what's happening now and things will get a little easier come fall.

I signed up for the daily groove with Enjoying Parenting; thanks for that tip! I can use all the positive inspiration that's out there
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