The 4.5 year old

My 4.5 year old
Darling Rascals

Things have, all in all, been pretty smooth sailing this year when it comes to Gus. The first part of the year saw him settle tremendously after an horrific terrible twos and even more traumatic threenager phase.

He’s been excelling at kinder and kicking goals left right and centre.

He’s been polite, and well mannered, for the most part. Boisterous, yes. Full of never-ending energy, yes. Pushing the occasional boundary, of course. He’s no saint!

But then we hit 4.5 years old, and it’s like something happened overnight.

Attitude happened. Talking back and arguing like he is already 14. The words “I’m part of this family too, and If I feel dirty, I deserve a shower” actually came out of his mouth. I mean, have you ever??

Name calling. Suddenly his brother, who had been his bestie, was considered a “baby”, or worse, a “little pig”.

The exploring 4.5 year old

The exploring 4.5 year old

The sharing thing that we’d spent the last two years working on, just seemed to fly out of the window.

Oh and the blatant ignoring of his name. Yeah that!

And then the final straw happened around three weeks ago. Gus, who has always, always, always been my dependable sleeper, stopped sleeping.

It began with a bad dream one night which saw him so distraught I had no other choice but to sleep in his bed. Every night since he has been waking multiple times and will not settle back to sleep.

It’s a cross between separation anxiety and an actual fear of something he just can’t put his finger on.

Now, if you don’t know me already, you might not know about my thirst for knowledge. Well, needless to say I have turned to every parenting book and website to search out the answers.

And here is what I found, hopefully it will provide you with some kind of solace!

Did you know that there are two phases in each year of a child’s development? The theory is there is the equilibrium phase and the disequilibrium phase. Some children enter and exit these phases without too much fuss, then there are others, such as mine, who go in and out, kicking and screaming!!


Natural Saffie

The first six months, post birthday

smooth, calm behavior
practicing skills already mastered
plateau in development
at peace with self and the world
more confident
a period of stability and consolidated behavior
easier to live with


The second six months, post birthday

unsettled, uneven behavior
learning new skills and abilities
quick time of growth and new development
uneasy with self and the world
more anxious, more stressed, less confident
a period of struggle and breaking down of behavior
more difficult to manage

(courtesy of

It makes a lot of sense really. The first half of the year, post birth day, is the equilibrium phase and the second half of the year is the disequilibrium phase. Which is where we are at.

I knew deep down it had to be developmental. Every time there has been any sort of emotional or physical change, it is always developmental. But knowing the above information, makes it somewhat easier to digest.

I still don’t know how to “fix” the problem behaviour, other than continue to reinforce boundaries and give him extra cuddles and assurance.

And I guess, for myself, I have to learn the skill of “riding it out”. Like every other phase we have been too, I know “this too shall pass”…and for now, I am so grateful for coffee, chocolate biscuits, and friends like you who are going through this, who have been through this, or who are about to go through this.

The playful 4.5 year old

The playful 4.5 year old

Have you read any interesting info on the equilibrium and disequilibrium phases of development? Or do you have any tips on helping a fearful child to sleep through the night?

One Comment on “The 4.5 year old”

  1. Renee Wilson

    Oh you’re clever finding that info! Yes, whenever I notice a change in their behaviour I put it down as a developmental issue and pray to God it will pass quickly. My five year old is not a great sleeper. She’s been having night terrors for about a year now and sleep talks and sleep walks most nights. Eeek. It’s a bit freaky 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *