April 26, 2021

Ask Amy- My 4-Year-Old Hates Transitions

Returning to non-Covid routines can be really hard for little ones. For a 4-year-old who’s spent a full quarter of her life hanging out at home with Mom, that WAS regular life! Here’s how to smooth the return to transitions, at home and at school.

The most important part of addressing our little ones’ challenging behavior is to get curious about what's causing it. For preschoolers struggling with the Covid-Plus restrictions of the moment, it's easy to identify the dysregulation that might accompany post-pandemic expectations. For a 4-year-old who's spent 25% of her life hanging out at home with Mom, all of these new rules are a lot to expect.

Our listener Corey wrote in to ask:

I'm wondering if you have some tips for helping my 4 1/2 year old in transitioning classrooms at school.

She has regressed at home and school... tantrums, arguing everything, crying at dropoff, pouting in class. She has never been easygoing, and always had strong emotions..Today, her teacher called me at work to ask me to calm my daughter down over the phone... she was sitting on the floor crying and refusing to participate. She's been going to daycare since 3 months old, and this is the first time I've ever had to do that.

The thing is, she was actually going through a blissful period before this. Mature, helpful, listening, not arguing every little thing. And then this transition happened, and it's like she regressed back to 3. In the "before times" I believe she would have been excited about moving to the older class.

Any advice on helping her get excited about school again? And maybe reversing this regression and getting back to that 4 year old I had two months ago?

In this episode Amy offers tips on how Corey might support her daughter at home and at school during this time. Getting curious about the "iceberg" underneath the surface tantrums will probably help a great deal.

Here's the bottom line: it's developmentally appropriate for kids to cycle between periods of regulation and dysregulation. While this might be a tough season, with a loving and attentive parent, it will get better soon.

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