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Why Your Child Acts That Way

Babyish Behavior

Why they do it: To get your attention, or to retreat from the expectations that come with their actual age. "If kids are feeling overwhelmed by a demand or a certain task, they might turn to baby talk or start saying ‘I can't,'" Huebner says. Some children also do this because of a major change or a trauma, Borba says.

What to do: Ask them to use their "regular" voice, Huebner says. It's usually a passing phase, so don't give it too much attention. 

Ignoring You

Why they do it: They may be so involved in whatever they're doing that they honestly don't hear you, Huebner says. Or they may actively be tuning you out. That may not just be because they don't like what you're saying. It may be that they think you talk too much. "When we are making tons of commands, over and over, some kids can actually hear less," Borba says.

What to do: Get their attention before you speak. "Go near your child, touch their shoulder, so that you seize their attention," Huebner says. Then, once you're done talking, ask the child to repeat back what you said. Saying less, but more strategically, may help them heed you.


Why they do it: They may not yet know the proper cues for conversation and how to wait their turn to talk. Or they may have been getting away with it, Borba says.

What to do: Explain that when someone is talking, we wait for the other person to pause or finish before jumping in. "If children aren't sure if the other person is finished, it's OK to say, 'Excuse me,' and then wait to be recognized," Huebner says. Also, make sure you don't interrupt people, since you are your child's most powerful role model.

Saying "Nothing" Happened Today

Why they do it: Children may not know how to choose what might be of interest to talk about. Or the timing might be off. They may need time to unwind or re-energize before talking, Huebner says.

What to do: Ask engaging questions at the right time. Notice when your child is most talkative. Is it after school? Later on?Then ask specific questions like "What did you make in art?" or "Tell me something that made you feel proud today." Avoid questions that are too vague or those that will get a "yes" or "no" answer.


Why they do it: They want to avoid a hard or unpleasant task. Or they may be more interested in something fun. Or they honestly don't realize how much time they need for a task.

What to do: Start routines that discourage procrastinating: Getting dressed comes before breakfast, homework gets done before playtime or electronics, toys get picked up before nighttime reading, etc. 

Reviewed on December 06, 2012

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