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Day 24: A Little Regression is to be Expected

Updated: May 1, 2020

Tip #24:

Expect regression.

Is your kid suddenly unable to sleep through the night? Or having toddler-like tantrums and she's 10? This regression isn't out of the realm of normal considering the stress she, like all of us, is experiencing. Under stressful conditions and trauma, children exhibit behavioral changes, including developmental regression. For many children, they are more likely to express their fears and sadness behaviorally rather than verbally. You've likely witnessed this in the form of increased irritability, lethargy or mood swings. (Not surprisingly, you've probably also experienced these symptoms yourself.)

What does all of this mean in terms of returning to normal? Will your child return to normal? When? Obviously, I can't answer any of those questions precisely or with absolute accuracy. What I can say is this: the more you are able to either maintain the routines of BC (Before Coronavirus) or adhere to the new routines established in the last 5 weeks of quarantine, the better. Also, choose your battles. Maybe now is not the time to enforce rules about turning off the lights and making beds but to instead focus on at least 2 movement breaks a day of 30 minutes or more, getting outside when possible, and completing at least 3 goal-directed activities per day. Goal-directed activities can be academic but they can also be creative, social, or athletic. My emphasis on framing these activities in terms of being "goal-directed" is based on the premise that kids (and the rest of us) need to feel a sense of accomplishment. That's accomplishment in the form of completion NOT achievement or success.

The return to normal likely will be bumpy and longer than any of us want. Some changes, positive and negative, may be lasting. For now, our role as parents is to provide as much of an emotional safety net as possible.

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