Children of all ages regress -- act like a younger child than they really are -- from time to time. From the toddler who picks up the baby bottle that she gave up a year ago to the sixteen year old who suddenly has to have a hug and kiss from Mom before leaving for school in the morning, regression to an earlier stage of life is a normal part of childhood. Yet parents often panic when their child exhibits behaviors that they thought were extinct.
When four year olds begin finding "bathroom talk" funny, parents usually dismiss the "you're a poo poo head" with a shrug of the shoulders. "It's just a phase," parents will say. And indeed, this type of "humor" does seem to pass by the time a child is around five or six years of age. Yet when those same children begin experimenting with four letter words, very few parents will dismiss it with "it's just a phase." Indeed, children's initial experimentation with four letter words often shocks and inflames parents.
At a workshop I was teaching on discipline the other night one man asked "So what happens if my wife thinks that our child should go to bed at 7:30 and I believe that children should go to bed whenever they get tired, even if that's at 10 or 11 at night?"
Nine year old Sarah wanted to go to a friend's house to spend the night, but her parents said "no." She pleaded and begged, and finally ended up sulking in her room for most of the weekend. Three year old Jack asked his mother for juice while she was working on the computer. She nodded her head and said "o.k." As she went to save the file she was working on before getting up, Jack flew into a tantrum, screaming "Juice! Juice!" as he flailed around on the floor.
Almost every child has had fears that relate to scary creatures -- monsters under the bed, "things" lurking in the dark, imagined goblins or ghouls or things that go bump in the night. And almost every child has had fears that could be true, but aren't -- like what happens if mommy leaves but doesn't come back?