Remember how we talked with Dr. Roya Ostovar about the analogy of sensory information coming into the body as stress – just more stress on an already overstressed body?
School Routine Changes
Home Routine Changes
OT/Therapy Routine Changes
Anticipation of Summer
“Spring Fever” in the Air
Worry About Summer Scheduling
Worry About Next School Year
Worry About Not Seeing Their Friends
Worry About Leaving Their Teacher
Imagine if all of these things are coming into your child’s body as stress. Your child is probably too young to have any real skills in the area of self talk (where you tell yourself, “Don’t worry, it will be OK.”), so they are not truly processing any of these thoughts or phenomenon. Instead, it is all just a garbled stew of stress.
Now, enter his school teacher who normally just says, “You need to put that away, it is time for circle.” And your child screams. Then throws the toy.
“Little Tommy has regressed!” your child’s teacher says with pure exasperated annoyance. “He hasn’t done this since last fall!”
And you feel awful.
Or this example (stolen from SashaSays’s real life with her Wild Child).
You get a note home, “Your child was putting her knees on the table, and she refused to stop. So she was made to eat in the office.”
And you are at a loss for what to tell the teacher, because you don’t know why your child doing something that they haven’t done in ages.
Or this one, (stolen from Chynna’s blog).
Jaimie gets to school, just to realize her friend isn’t there. Big MELTDOWN.
And you think, “OMG she hasn’t done this since last September – I can’t handle her regressing!”
Do those sound familiar? They probably do. They are happening to everyone, everywhere, right now. Including our family.
But it is NOT REGRESSION.
Then, what is it?
It is your child’s way of handling stress.
This time of year (and usually the winter holiday season too) your child has so much stress coming into their body that they cannot access the skills necessary to react adaptively to situations that they normally don’t have a problem with.
Example reasoning from the above scenarios:
Little Tommy: He can’t transition because he is stressed – Maybe the time change has him not sleeping well, his allergies are flaring up and he really just wanted to play with the toy. Enter flip out.
Sasha’sGirl: She was obviously in need of some input in her legs (duh!) and was attempting to get it in a fairly adaptive fashion (knees on table at my house would not be a problem). Why couldn’t she follow the rules (the teacher thought she wouldn’t, but we have all read Dr. Greene’s work, and believe that this darling little one would do well if she could )? Because the need for sensory input was just one more stressor and it put her over the edge.
Chynna’s Jaimie: Why did Jaimie start to have the same behavior as she did at the beginning of the year? Because having her friend not there was just too much – as Chynna wrote, Jaimie was dealing with transition issue to 2nd grade, loss of her school routine with summer coming, and a myriad of other stressors. The absence of her friend was just too much.
Here is my point:
Our kids take two steps forward and one step back. Every year. Every month. Every week. Every day.
It is more important that we realize this, lower our demands of them during the rough times, and allow them to continue to feel successful, until we can ramp back up to where we were before – and move forward again. This isn’t a ‘loss of skills’, it is more of an ‘unable to access the skills’ issue.
So the next time someone says, “Your child has regressed” or “He hasn’t done that all year!”
Ask them if they would be able to function seamlessly after just after being fired from their job, finding out that their MIL is moving in with them for the summer, and having their husband call to say he’d wrecked the family’s car – without insurance.
How focused would they be then? Would they blow up? Be irritable? Easily frustrated? Not feeling flexible?
Of course they would be.
Imagine how your kid feels now — in their little lives, it really feels like that big of a deal.