Your 31-month-old: Preschooler stress

Your 31-month-old: Preschooler stress

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Your 2-year-old now

Most of the time, your preschooler is probably a happy kid. But did you know that very young children can get stressed out, too? Common stressors for preschoolers include having too many planned activities, the lack of a stable routine, feeling sick, a move, a separation from a beloved caregiver, or the arrival of a new sibling. Some signs a child is feeling pushed or stressed:

  • She suddenly seems withdrawn and disinterested in things.
  • There's a change in her personality, especially from sunny to sullen or angry.
  • She resists when it's time to go play.
  • She insists she wants to "go home" when you've just arrived at a new place.
  • Her toilet-training progress seems to regress (daytime accidents after several weeks or months without any, for example).

Give your child extra TLC during stressful times. Reassess what's going on in her life and see if you can put more security and stability back into it. For example, if you think the problem might be too much activity (and all the related rushing and nagging), scale back your plans.

Your life now

Here's a way to break a behavior you don't like, whether it's playing with food, whining, or screaming: Look the other way. Child development experts call this "ignoring to extinction." Sometimes it's your lively annoyed reaction that a child is really after when she misbehaves in a way she knows you don't like. If you try this strategy, beware: You might first get a so-called "extinction burst," where the behavior escalates for while. That happens because your child is working all the harder to see if she can get a rise out of you. Keep on ignoring and the behavior is likely to go the way of the dinosaur.

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