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Factors for behaviour regression in young children

  • Junior Colleges
  • Category Advice Column, Early Learning, Education, Junior Colleges, Recently

When a young child returns to an earlier stage of development and behaves accordingly, this is known as regression. You won’t always have a huge infant on your hands; this is simply your child’s way of informing you that they require more attention and sympathy from you. It is particularly prevalent among young children, and the factors for this will be discussed.

The first factor is physical lack of sleep. When children are deprived of sleep for several days or more, fatigue sets, resulting in a grumpy, disagreeable, and unhappy child who begins to regress behaviourally. A second physical stressor is the onset of an illness. For example, your child may be infected with a virus or flu before you realise it, and regressive behaviour is the first indicator. A third physical stressor is a change in diet or a poor diet. For example, you may see regressive, irritable behaviour if there has been an increase in junk food, sugar, or a lack of good nutrition.

The second factor is social stressors such as fighting with other kids, being bullied, or being isolated can all lead to regressive behaviour. Younger children are unable to process their experiences in a way that enables them to maintain their self-esteem in the face of social rejection. When a child suffers a social setback, they may become depressed, angry, clingy, overly sensitive, argumentative, hyperactive, or distracted. 

Change of routine is the third factor to consider. Although some children are more adaptable and less reactive to change than others, most children react to significant changes such as moving to a new home, changing schools, or the arrival of a new child, to mention a few. Reactions can be visible quickly but can also appear later and become more intense. The reactions will undoubtedly be behavioural, which means they will not appear direct. For example, instead of genuine sadness, you may see clinginess or crying when it’s time to leave for school, as well as regressive behaviours like forgetfulness, unwillingness to perform things that are regularly done without difficulty, or baby language. Some children react to hyperactivity more negatively. The birth of a new kid is a significant change for any child and should be considered, as it frequently leads to the most regressive behaviours. It can be determined by several factors: The child’s age, the transition preparations ahead of time, and the parent’s ability to notice and work with emotions as they occur.

The fourth factor is marital tension. When parents have marital issues, it s practically impossible to keep it hidden from their children. Even if there is no visible evidence of anxiety or emotional stress in the air, such as arguing or fighting in front of the children, they may sense the tension and emotional stress. This is because children are sponges and acutely aware of changes in their parents’ moods. They may not understand the issue or be mature enough to consider it, but they will sense the tension, internalise it, and react to it.

The last factor is basic stress. This arises when there is too much going on and too many demands, resulting in an overwhelmed child. Factors include: 

  • There are too many extracurricular activities and not enough downtime.
  • Holidays.
  • Weekends are jam-packed.
  • Seasons of sports are jam-packed with practices and games.
  • Any kind of performance.

In general, an overload of activity and responsibility combined with insufficient breaks and periods of rest or downtime can lead to regressive behaviour.

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  • Anonymous July 5, 2022 at 5:43 am

    I don’t think we as parents realise how our stresses filter to our children. It is not what we want to have happen but it does happen. I want to start making more time with our children!


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