Help with 5 Year Old Regressing

Updated on November 26, 2008
L.D. asks from Somerville, MA
4 answers

hi,my daughter started kingarten in september,she was in full time preschool the previous year.i have noticed in the last few weeks that she is starting to behave differently.wants to be carried like a baby,wont go to sleep by herself,gets upset when mom or dad leave the house,is upset when going in the line to school.she even asked me a few days ago to put milk into a baby bottle for her.when she gets to school she loves it.we got a report card today and she seems to be doing very well.i ask her in a round about way is anything bothering her at home or school and she says no or that she dosent want to talk about it.i am going to talk with her teacher daughter is also very tiny for her age and i guess i am worried that some kids have said that to her.i dont really know what to think.hopefully someone has some advice on what could be happening.thank you.

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So What Happened?

thank you all for the great advice.i spoke with my daughters teacher and she assured me that this is normal.she told me that a few of the kids are going through daughter also told me that her friend at school was telling her scary stories about ghosts so that must be the reason for having a hard time going to bed.her teacher is going to have a chat to her today and meet with me this evening just to make sure there is nothing else going on.i feel much better today about this behaviour.thank you all so much.

More Answers



answers from Boston on

This sounds perfectly normal to me. My son did the same thing at the start of kindergarten and I was a little worried - but my mother, who is a life long elementary school teacher (has taught K-4 at various times), assured me it was very typical. Kids start to get a little freaked by the pressures of the "big" school and the knowledge they are growing up - it makes them insecure and they look for ways to be reassured that they are still your "baby." My son is in first grade now and still has his moments when he wants to be cuddled in my lap and talk in a baby voice, but he has mostly grown past the regressive behavior he exhibited earlier. As I recall, I tried to help him through that time by both allowing him those moments to cuddle and have "Mama time" - but also to balance that with talking up the reality of getting older/growing up and how many advantages come with that. I tried to continually portray growing up and being on your own in the adult world as a wonderul, adventurous, liberating thing to look forward to(e.g. told him stories about how great it was to move into my first apt. on my own and be able to eat dessert before dinner if I wanted to!). At one point he asked when we would kick him out of the house and I realized that was part of his fear - that he would be forced to move away from us someday! I didn't realize how hard it is for a five year old to think about living on their own. So then I had to backtrack and reassure him that we wouldn't be kicking him out - that he would get to an age when he would feel the confidence and desire to move out on his own and even then, he could choose to live nearby and we would still be a family and see each other as much as we wanted. That seemed to comfort him. So sometimes just talking it through - addressing some of those behaviors head on - can reveal fears that may be easy enough to address.
Good luck!



answers from Boston on

Hi, I am experiencing the same thing with my 5 yr old little girl. I almost feel like since she turned 5 she turned into a different child. She is a sept baby so she missed the cut off for kindergarden, but she is in pre k and this is her 3rd year at her school. I am a stay at home mom, but had her in school 2 half days and one full as she will go to full day kindergarden. Well she did not like the full days. She all of a sudden became clingy, crying at drop off. Last week she actually would not stay at a birthday party b/c I would not be there. Its horrible, I became very worried and talked to her teacher who thinks she is just going through a growth spirt and testing me. She is so emotional and always has been, but now it is starting to worry me. Everything seems to hurt her feelings, and I am trying to say to her she needs to brush it off, and try and learn to deal with her feelings that it is natural, and everyone feels hurt sometimes. She is also acting like a baby, wanting my husband and I to hold her a lot, and constantly testing us. I broke down the other day and thought what am I doing wrong. She is an only child and gets so much love. My husband is such a loving dad, and very involved. I always wanted that in a husband, and really thought I would have the perfect child b/c we are both so loving and attentive. I feel like no matter what we do its not enough. I try so hard not to get frustrated with her, but at times find I have to yell to get her to do anything. Now when i drop her at school I just walk out the door. The longer I stay the more upset she gets. My child last yr would run into school no problem. Go to birthday parties no problem. Now all of a sudden she is shy, and clingy. I am going to talk with her pedo at her appt this month. I am sorry I dont have any advice only to say I feel you! I love being a mom more than anything, its so hard when you love someone so much you just want them to be okay all the time, and when they hurt you hurt, and its so hard to see her going through this because I just want to fix it for her. But I know she needs to learn to deal with her feelings herself. Good luck!!!



answers from Boston on

Hi L.,
It's interesting that you should raise this issue as I just attended a School Parent Council (SPC) meeting on a similar subject last night. My oldest daughter's school has implemented a Respect/Anti-Bullying Campaign this year. Bullying has been defined as any behavior that makes another child feel uncomfortable and interferes with a safe learning environment. As the result of focus groups assembled last year, this school found that the single largest issue with bullying is name calling even in jest that escalates into something else. Until recently, the response to this type of behavior had been "it's just kids being kids." However, this year there is no tolerance for any type of bullying or disrespectful behavior and there has been a great focus around getting parents on board with this initiative when this behavior has been identified in one of our students.

This being said, I believe that our instincts as mothers are typically right on. So if you feel that someone has created an uncomfortable learning environment for your daughter, you should absolutely address it. however, I would caution that it should be handled in such a way that your daughter doesn't feel further victimized if the teacher or administrator speaks to the child. That is to say that the teacher should never say to one child that another child has said you've done x or y. A better approach is to say what happened in this situation or to address a situation when he/she observes it happening and not simply dismiss it as "this is the way kids play/interact with one another." With this approach a child who is being "bullied" is much more likely to report the behavior because she feels safe. And while the focus on curbing this behavior is generally at the middle school level, we should be teaching our children a level of respect and tolerance as soon as they start school.

By all means address your concern with the teacher but more importantly help your daughter to know that she is protected and can tell you absolutely anything and not have to worry about being further victimized.

Lastly, you mention that you care for 4 other children during the day. Is it possible that your daughter wants to be a baby again because she sees you taking care of other babies? Have you started taking care of a new baby recently. Just a thought for consideration. Good luck and I'm sure all will be well. You're definitely doing the right thing by addressing it now.



answers from Boston on

Hi L.,
It's also possible that your daughter has reached a naturally developed stage of maturity, during which her knowledge of the world is in conflict with her previously acquired, happy acceptance of you being able to control the world.
When she was younger and you said that she could separate from you and you would be fine and see her at the end of the day, she learned you were always correct and that she and you were safe. As children get older, they begin to learn that caring adults do not always control outcomes. At this age, I would be certain to limit tv, even as a background diversion. Images of the California fires, home invasions, deaths, feed into this sense of uncertaintly and turn the development of nautrally occuring doubt into fear. Also, keeping things to a schedule at home (meals, bedtime) is very reassuring that life in your home is going on as usual.
I'm sure you will receive a variety of wonderful responses, consider them all, and move forward with a plan. Meanwhile please do not stress asking her what's wrong, as that implies she understands the underlying psychological reasons for her fears. Take care!

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