Cooperation Begins with Trust

Category Archives: Preschoolers 3-5 yrs

preschool discipline, parenting help, parenting solutions for preschoolers.

Behavior Changes you Can Expect to see in your Child as you Shelter In Place

Behavior Changes you Can Expect to see in your Child as you Shelter In Place

Sheltering in place can create behavior changes for the whole family. Here you can find information on what you can expect and how you can respond to these behaviors in a helpful and positive way.

Quick guide on setting limits included below.

With the ongoing pandemic, we are living through very are uncertain times. Routine changes, added stress and worry is likely to be affecting your whole family.

Even if you are doing your very best to keep calm, it’s very possible that your child will still experience some behavior changes during the time that you must shelter in place.

Big changes come with Big feelings.

Similar to when families welcome a sibling, or have to move to a new home, big changes lead to big feelings. Big feelings are often expressed with behavior changes.

Behavior is communication. Children don’t often come to us and say “I’m having a hard time.” Children change their behavior. They “act out”, behave in new or unexpected ways.

You might actually be surprised by new behaviors. Or puzzled as to why your previously kind, cooperative kid is now refusing to do very basic tasks.

Having to shelter in place is a big change for many families and children.

Let’s look at some ways sheltering in place might be affecting your child’s behavior.

Pouting. Shouting. Tears. Tantrums

Your child might be confused about how they feel right now. They may alternate between feeling happy, sad, worried, confused and bored.

Small things that your child might have taken in stride on an ordinary day might trigger tears, yelling or frustration.

Whining and crying are common ways for children to deal with stress and change.

  • Try to be understanding of your child’s feelings and respond calmly.
  • By validating your child’s feelings, you are giving them the safety they need to move through their uncertainty.

Building this kind of trust will be the basis, going forward to working together towards cooperation.

Being extra clingy

Your child might suddenly want to be babied or sleep near you. This search for closeness is a way to seek reassurance and safety.

Being clingy is code for “I need love, reassurance and safety.”

Seeking more attention and affection from you is actually an age appropriate response to a stressful or uncertain situations.

This is how your child is letting you know very clearly that they are feeling uncertain or uneasy about what is happening.

When your child is unable to un-glue herself from you, try to validate feelings and fears.

  • “I see you don’t want to be far from me.”
  • “You seem to need to be close to me right now, I’m here for you.”

Regression is not uncommon during times of stress and change.

Your child might have potty acidents, or suddenly be unable to complete simple tasks on their own.

Your child might refuse to do things alone ( showing defiance or whining) or they may insist you do the tasks for them.

You migh hear variations on:

  • “I can’t”
  • “This is too hard for me.”
  • “You do it!!!!!”

Demanding or helplessness is another way children share with you that they are overwhelmed.

The best response in this case is to model graciousness.  

If you want them to be generous, be generous (yes, of spirit, not just with “things.”)  If you want them to be helpful, be helpful.  If you want them to help without being asked, help without being asked.  If you want them to speak softly, speak softly.  If you want them to say thank you, say thank you.  Always without resentment—because I presume that you don’t want children who resent you.  

Robin Einzig, Visible Child

Responding and attending to your child’s needs by helping them will not spoil them or make them forever dependent on you.

The more warmth, patience and kindness you can show now, the more the situation will normalize in your home. Soon your child will feel confident and safe again.

Change in eating and sleeping habits.

Your child’s routine is likely different now that you are sheltering in place.

Worry, stress and new routines often have an impact on sleeping and eating habits.

Some children will have botomless tummy’s and ask to snack all the time. Some children may not want to eat or suddenly become very picky.

Sleep changes can be common when routines change. Your child might have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Increase in night wakings, nightmares are all possible.

behavior changes child

Your child might wish for you to stay by their bedside while they fall alseep as they seek extra comfort and safety. Some children may worry so much they keep themselves awake.

Another possibility is that your child holds together all day long but simply can’t manage anymore at the end of the day. Bedtime might be more difficult than usual.

Behavior changes in sleeping and eating tend to improve when children feel safe and secure.

Impulse control is hard when the brain is stressed and tired.

You might find that your child is acting out, not listening, or particularly uncooperative.

Any and all of these behavior changes are possible.

Please expect that children will likely exhibit more challenging behaviors during this pandemic. Their routines are disrupted and they pick up on the ambient stress in our world. Patience, empathy and compassion will help all of us manage these uncertain times. Sending love

Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.

Here’s one tried and true approach for disciplining challenging behaviors

Stay calm. Set clear limits and then coach your child on how to do better next time.

While most children will not actually admit to wanting or liking limits,  especially when it means less cookies or no more screen time, keeping  limits shows your child they can trust you to keep some order during uncertain times.

Here is a quick guide on setting limits:

  • Say what you mean in a calm and clear way.
  • Adjust your expectations to the situation you are in.
  • Think carefully if a limit is truly necessary and then follow through with the limits you set.

There is no perfect blueprint you must follow right now.

Be kind. Be patient. With your children, yourself, and anyone else you live with.

Address unhelpful behaviors in positive, respectful ways as often as possible.

If you end up yelling, crying or just having your own tantrum, forgive yourself.

Even if it’s not how you wish you were handling things, you are certainly NOT the only parent having a hard time.

It’s always possible to stop, reset and restore your relationship.

Here Are Three Steps You can Take After Yelling At Your Child To Restore Your Relationship 

  1. Rewind: Acknowledge internally that you have said something hurtful or rude
  2. Repair: Apologize for not only what you said, but how you did it.
  3. Replay: Try again, this time responding with kindness and the intent to connect.

If you need support, reach out. I am happy to share resources with you and wish you and your family safety and health.

Peace and Be well,


How To Handle Toddler Temper Tantrums and Screaming

How To Handle Toddler Temper Tantrums and Screaming

To stop tantrums it is best to understand why tantrums happen and what really helps your child feel better and calm down.  Most children have tantrums during the toddler years. Tantrums can also happen when children are three or four years old, and even later. Tantrums are actually quite normal and are just expressions of… Continue Reading

Using Time In instead of Time Out for Toddler Misbehavior

Using Time In instead of Time Out for Toddler Misbehavior

Time Out for Toddlers are no longer recommended.  Here is a step by step guide on how to use Time In when disciplining your child.  Your hair fell off mama. I caught it for you. That’s what I heard one morning as I was waking up. Before me, stood my 2.5 year old, scissors in one hand,… Continue Reading

How to Discipline when your Child Tells Tall-Tales, Fibs and Lies

How to Discipline when your Child Tells Tall-Tales, Fibs and Lies

Understanding why children tell lies and how to discipline in a way that fosters honesty and healthy development. “My room was full of flying dragons last night, they knocked over the books, not me!” Children often tell fibs, stretch a tale and blame mysterious creatures for misbehaviour. Lying, is actually a sign of intelligence. While… Continue Reading

5 Powerful Questions For Setting Limits on Your Child’s Behavior

5 Powerful Questions For Setting Limits on Your Child’s Behavior

Inside: Five questions to help you set limits instead of using punishment when your child misbehaves. “I have tried using warnings, time outs and taking my son’s toys away when he acts out, hits his sister and just overall doesn’t listen to me but it doesn’t work. I hear a lot about setting limits but I… Continue Reading

Teaching Your Child How To Calm Down

Teaching Your Child How To Calm Down

Inside: You can be a big influence in your child’s life when it comes to learning how to calm down instead of having fits of anger.  Calming Down isn’t Always Easy For Children. Help your child manage tantrums, anger and frustration and learn self-regulation skills. “Got anything I can smash around here?” asked my daughter with… Continue Reading

Kids Routine Charts and Using Positive Discipline To Make them Work

Kids Routine Charts and Using Positive Discipline To Make them Work

Over the summer, my 9 year old daughter began having trouble falling asleep. “I just can’t sleep!!” she whined (and she really meant it.) After several weeks of trying to talk her out of her insomnia, I decided a new bedtime routine was in order. We brainstormed the steps, and decided to include a short… Continue Reading

Have A Happy Holiday Season With These Proven Parenting Tips

Have A Happy Holiday Season With These Proven Parenting Tips

The holiday season can be a big trap for stress and parenting self-sabotage. For the next several weeks, you may have high expectations for good, cooperative behavior.  You may get tired of fielding requests for big, expensive or so very many gifts. Comments from relatives at family gatherings may trigger self-doubt.  Little elves on shelves eagerly waiting to report… Continue Reading

How To Transform Criticism And Bring Out the Best in Your Child

How To Transform Criticism And Bring Out the Best in Your Child

The best praise is focused on your child’s effort, not your child’s traits. The same is true of criticism. In one study by Columbia University researchers, kindergarteners were given a scenario: a teacher asks them to create a house out of Legos, and they forget to put in windows. Then the teacher and child role-play… Continue Reading

The Best Discipline Strategy When Children Become Aggressive

The Best Discipline Strategy When Children Become Aggressive

Inside: How To Use Positive Discipline To Respond to Aggressive Behaviors in Toddlers and Young Children It’s quite normal for toddlers and preschoolers to struggle with aggressive behavior from time to time. When your child acts aggressively it is typically a sign that she is feeling upset, scared or overwhelmed. Many parents worry that aggressive… Continue Reading