It was pickup time shortly after the start of a new preschool year. My son had a great day, but suddenly was sucking his thumb, wailing and pulling at me— in full meltdown mode. He hadn’t acted like that since he was much younger. What happened to my Big Boy?
What Happened to My Happy Preschooler? The Back-to-School Behavior Blues
Ms. Katie, my son’s teacher, reassured me that a little behavioral backtracking was normal at the start of a new school year. Children follow new rules all day, behaving at their best. But when it’s time to go home, they “let it all out” with those they love most – their parents. Extra protests, complaints and behavior you thought they’d long outgrown can make a surprise appearance.
Here’s why: Preschoolers are creatures of habit. They soak up a new experience, often to the exclusion of anything else. Their little brains haven’t yet mastered the difficult job of switching tasks. So switching from “summer mode” into “school mode” and back into “home mode” can be a little rocky until new habits are formed. That’s why little ones fall back on old, comfortable behaviors from the past. But don’t worry – your Big Kid will return soon.
How to Cope
Regression usually improves within a few weeks. Until then, try these tips for coping:
If your little one’s regression lasts longer than a few weeks, talk with her teacher and her pediatrician to get to the bottom of what’s upsetting her.