Mostly, adults fail to understand that children can also suffer from regression. If your child all of a sudden wets the bed, fails to indicate that she needs to go to the toilet, wants you to sleep with her even if she’s been sleeping alone for quite some time or starts throwing tantrums at the name of school, then this is a sign that your child is under regression. Parents mostly fail to understand this type of behavior, and end up having a battle of wills with their child for such behavior. Most parents get upset, and throw their hands up in frustration. Being a parent is difficult but an ideal parent is the one who understands his child’s emotions. Even though your child is young but he also has feelings and situations to deal with at school or in anyone else’s company. For a young child, even simple things are very complex.
What is regression?
Regression is when child exhibit emotions that is not age appropriate or developmentally younger than their age. One such example is sucking thumb as a toddler or wanting a pacifier to go to sleep. Regressive behavior is caused by stress, frustration, fear or any traumatic event to your child. Such regressive behavior is initiated due to some events that are unexpected for a child or which cause him distress. Basically, unlearning what a child has already learned – or not retaining new skills is termed as regression.
Regression is a part of growing up, and many children go through a regressive period. We could say, it is two steps forward and one step backward behavioral development. While we, as adults, acquire and retain new skills easily, children do not learn in a straight, upward graph – they do so in loops, sometimes, coming back to the point where they started from. It can be said that children unlearn the most recently acquired skills.
Examples of Regressive Behavior
For adults or parents sighting regressive behavior in their child is very easy, but dealing with a child showing such behavior can be equally difficult. For some children regression is a merry tool to avoid certain circumstances. Throwing tantrums or talking like a baby are some example when a child displays regression. In some situations regression in s child is a serious issue and involuntary. Wetting the bed at night, getting prone to accidents, unwillingness to sleep with light off, asking you to stay with him or her all the time, inability to indicate when nature calls strike etc. are various situations where a child’s regressive behavior can be noticed. Any action that is not age appropriate for your child and which he had grown off is regression.
Causes of Regressive Behavior
There are many reasons that can cause regression in a child. Parents’ divorce, arrival of new siblings, new relationship of parents with other person, dealing with death of a close one, moving or shifting to a new place, changing schools etc. can induce regressive behavior in children. An unhealthy environment at home can also affect a child in a negative way. Regression is very common in toddlers, but it is corrected as the child grows older. Some events that are unwelcome by a child are main reason of regressive behavior. Lack of attention to children can also cause regressive behavior. Some situations that make them feel insecure, angry, scared, or sad should be handled by parents to stop such regressive behavior.
How to deal with Regressive behavior in Children?
As a parent you should understand that your child is not displaying such behavior on purpose, whereas something is causing it.
- Before anything, it is imperative to identify why your child is behaving the way he is – just go through recent changes your child’s been through, even the minutest ones. Discuss with your child, and though he may find it hard to be vocal about his feelings, you will be able to figure out the reasons by listening to his responses.
- Sit and discuss your child’s feeling, talk with him or her about feelings he or she is having. For most parent discussion is when your child sits on a table top and you tell them off, do not do this or that. No, just not the way. Give your child chances to put forward his thoughts. Have a two way conversation with them about what they are doing, what is happening around them, and listen carefully to every single word they say.
- Don’t embarrass your child and be sensitive to your child’s feeling. Ignore the negative behavior and focus on the positive aspect of your child. Sympathize with the child, and appreciate his strength and his efforts.
- Do whatever you need to correct the problem, as per your capacity. For example, if you have changed your place of residence, make sure the child’s room has the same curtains, bed, spreads and toys in the same way as they were in the old house to give him a sense of familiarity and security.
- Give you child attention and care for he needs it very much now. Spend some alone time with him, leaving the younger baby with friends or a babysitter. One-on-one conversations call for complete focus.
- Encourage your child as he begins to learn skills again, and do not set unrealistic time-limits. There has to be no co-relation between your expectations and your child’s developmental schedule.
- If your child’s regressive behavior continues for several weeks, and you haven’t been able to zero out on a cause, do reach out to a pediatrician and discuss the concern.