The Nature of Regressions

January 7th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

With my son, regressions are like an extreme sport. They might not be dangerous per se, but like extreme sports, they involve high levels of speed, physical exertion, and spectacular stunts. Oh yeah…and they’re never boring.

Like any child, our son experiences regressions for any number of reasons. He could be on the verge of some cognitive or development shift or going through a transition or change in his daily routine. It could be a holiday season, such as Thanksgiving, Halloween, or Christmas. It could be a full moon. And it could be….just because.

Now that he’s seven, we are starting to understand the causes of his regressions and even expect them. For example, we happen to know that mid-spring, for whatever reason, is a difficult time for our son. So knowing that, we can gear up, warn the teachers, batten the hatches, and get our strategies in place. Those preparations usually help—at the very least, they allow us to not be caught off guard and surprised when our son starts exhibiting behavior we happily bid adieu to six or twelve months earlier.

But the thing I’m still guilty of doing when we’re in the throes of a regression, which we are right now, is waiting for things to go back to “normal.” This is something I usually desperately want because regressions are usually preceded by periods of really great regulation and behavior. In fact, before the regression strikes, we may be experience unprecedented compliance, flexibility, easy goingness, and social connectedness. This makes the regressions especially sucky because my husband and get a taste of how good things can be, how smoothly life in our house can run. And we want it back.

But as I was lamenting the loss of this smooth household just yesterday, I remembered that it’s never going back to the way things were. Sure, the regression and its unfortunate accompanying behaviors will subside, but what things will look like after that is uncharted waters. It’s always new. Because our son is always evolving and changing and acquiring more information and developing in his own interesting and unique way.

So I need to let go of the hope that things will go back to the way they were and be open and hopeful for where things are going to go. More than that, I think I’ll just try and be present to what’s happening today. That’s the only thing that really matters anyway…

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