Growing up is scary business and many of us would like to go back to a time when we were cared for and had no responsibility. Taking a step back with our independence is part of the process of maturing. Kids take two forward by trying to have more independence, but they also take one step back. They whine and cry and say they can’t do something they’ve been able to do for a while. They act babyish or become self-critical.
The relationship with our kids takes place in the daily routines of getting ready as we slowly teach them how to care for themselves. While it is frustrating to see your child take this step back, understanding it will help you respond rather than react with anger. If you relax and let them fall back a little, they will quickly move forward again. How far back you ask? Enough to help them feel calm and not so much that you distort your life. You will see this behaviour throughout childhood into the teen years. Teens might go back to reading old books from their past, hang around you are acting annoying or even sitting on your knee as they tower above you!
The following symptoms indicate that although your child is growing into new independence, she is also afraid of the responsibilities that go with it:
- needing parents at night
- crying when parents leave
- whining “you do it for me”
- babyish behaviour
- going back to old activities
- negative attention-getting
Seek out connection with your child several times a day and focus on being fully present, even just for a few minutes. Watch what happens.