Behavior varies among toddlers, and most unusual ones are just a stage.

Rocking in Toddlers

by Kelly Sundstrom

Toddler behavior can vary from child to child and may sometimes resemble personality disorders or other mental conditions found in adolescents or adulthood, according to the University of Pittsburgh. The website Help Guide indicates that unusual behaviors in your toddler will likely fade and not appear once she matures past the toddler stage. However, according to the website Autism in Kids, when toddlers exhibit certain behavioral traits, such as rocking, it could indicate a more serious issue.

1. Rocking and Autism

Rocking in toddlers appears as one of the early signs of autism and autism-related disorders, such as Asperger's Syndrome, according to the website Autism in Kids. Rocking seems to help children with autism by creating vestibular stimulation; this type of stimulation helps the child feel more balanced, and the rocking motion of the body helps the brain feel calm and even, the website says. Also referred to as "stimming," you might overlook this quiet activity in your toddler because it does not become distracting or precocious. If you notice rocking, consider whether your child shows other signs of autism, such as lack of eye contact, excessive tantrums or delayed speech, Autism in Kids advises.

2. Rocking and Stress

Children who have a lot of stress in their lives often exhibit physical behaviors, such as rocking, according to the University of Pittsburgh. Toddlers often rock when under stress because they lack the communication skills to talk about any anxiety they feel inside, the university's website says, and rocking in toddlers calms down the nervous system and helps these little children cope with stress. Evaluate whether your family has experienced any recent stressful situations or traumatic events, such as a big move, a death in the family or an injury. All of these situations could cause stress-related rocking.

3. Observing Your Child

Short periods of rocking in toddlerhood may not indicate a serious condition as much as consistent rocking that happens for long periods of time. Observe your toddler over an extended period to see if he rocks every month, every week or multiple times every day, suggests the website Help Guide, since the frequency of the rocking relates to what might cause the rocking to happen. Write down what you observe to help you keep track of the rocking frequency.

4. Get a Professional Opinion

Many parents find it helpful to consult with a professional about the cause of rocking in their toddler, says the website Autism in Kids. If you feel concerned and want to speak to someone with more extensive knowledge, talk to your pediatrician, child psychologist or child behavioral specialist. She can evaluate your toddler to find out if the rocking could arise from a deeper issue or condition.

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