May 20, 2020

The Great Regression: Why We're All Acting Like Babies Right Now

Many kids are exhibiting regressive behavior right now. Lots of adults too: Zoom with your summer camp friends much? It’s normal to seek the security of the past in times of stress.Here’s how to let regression be, and how to address it productively.


Potty training back-sliding? Pacifiers showing up at breakfast? Preschoolers in your bed? Tweens suddenly engaging in baby talk? Welcome to The Great Regression.

It's no surprise that regressive behavior shows up in times of stress. Sometimes it's not as easy to spot, but whether it's more clingy behavior or more temper tantrums, regression is our kids' way of communicating that they are feeling insecure. As child development specialist Claire Lerner explains, "When kids feel out of control on the inside, they lose control on the outside."

In this episode, we discuss

  • how regressive behavior can manifest, including for grownups
  • when we should let it be
  • what works to address it, and what definitely doesn't


Does it matter if your kid is still sucking her thumb in first grade because she was involved in a global pandemic? It does not. But addressing the underlying need for reassurance is the best way forward, for your kid and for you.

Here are links to research and other writing on the topic that we discuss in this episode:

Caroline Bologna for HuffPost: 10 Mental Health Signs To Watch Out For In Kids In The Age Of COVID-19

Claire Lerner for Psychology Today: Regression in the Time of Coronavirus

Hermioni N. Lokko, MD, MPP and Theodore A. Stern, MD: Regression: Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Management

Heather Marcoux for Motherly: Why your big kid wants to be a 'baby' right now

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