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Regression. 'Good' or 'bad'?

(7 Posts)
meoverhere Mon 01-Dec-14 20:01:25

just that really.

Have seen/heard varying opinions.

SW said, when I said DD was regressing 'good, she's realising you can fill in the gaps in her development from when she was small'

Sally Donavan says in 'The Unoffical Guide to Adoption' it's a sign of anxiety.

I'm sure it can be both... But do you think it's 'A Good Thing' or 'A Bad Thing'?

If your AC did, how long did it last for?

KittyandTeal Mon 01-Dec-14 20:09:56

I'm not sure about it in adoption specifically but my friend and colleague who is a play therapist always says it's a sign that the child has started trusting her and is filling on the gaps when they start regressing (and pretty much all of them do)

AdventuringAbout Mon 01-Dec-14 20:22:56

I would say my LO definitely showed signs of wanting to regress both when they were feeling a bit safer here, and also still does at moments of anxiety such as ill health or change.

I think both your sources are right OP - it's a good sign when your LO chooses to let their anxiety show in a way that lets you in, and invites you to help them.

My LO has quite a lot of negative early experiences that they're trying to process, so I suspect some of the regressive behaviour may be with us for a long time. Some has disappeared within months (mainly around wanting to be fed, or having very babyish food). Some has become part of our morning/bedtime routines, and I'm fine with it, because it clearly makes them feel safer. I am working on the basis that LO will let me know when they don't need it any more smile

Lilka Mon 01-Dec-14 21:23:01

I think it's complex, and while the results of regressing behaviour could be negative or positive depending on the child, I don't think regressing is good or bad in and of itself.

Two of my children regress when they're particularly anxious and stressed, DD2 especially, sometimes very dramatically. I adopted her 10 years ago, and it still happens, and happened with her FC's before me.

On the other hand, sometimes her regressing isn't prompted by a particular stressor, but almost the opposite - moments where she's feeling a bit more secure - and these times have lead to us doing very positive things together and developping our relationship. I've definitely babied her a lot and treated her as a much younger child and it's absolutely been a positive experience for us.

I can tell the difference because if she gets really stressed and then behaves younger, she tends to be very 'push-pull', shoving me away despite acting like she does want physical affection. Or she'll accept a cuddle, wrap her arms roung me and immediately pinch my back hard etc. But when she's feeling more secure, she'll happily and calmly cuddle for a lot longer, or be rocked back and forth on my rocking chair etc, but still be behaving a lot younger than normal.

But either way, I take the tack that however young she behaves, is how young she probably needs to be parented as right now. If she's behaving as a toddler, whether because she's incredibly anxious and stressed, or feeling more secure but craving it for another reason, then she needs nurture and physical affection and supervision etc, like a toddler. (and also activities aimed at younger children, or earlier bedtime etc).

I have to admit I don't really like the phrase 'filling in the gaps' because it makes it sound as if it's all made up for now, there are no gaps. But in reality you can't actually 'do it over'. What's missed can't be made up for or 'filled in' by creating new experiences of this nurturing later on. The way i see it is that the gaps are still there, but hopefully we are creating an environment where new connections can be made in the brain which will help our children in their development, so they can live with these gaps without it affecting their day to day life to the same degree it might have done without this nurturing environment.

odyssey2001 Mon 01-Dec-14 21:25:24

I have always seen regression as our son's unconscious wanting to relive / live parts of his earlier years that were either absent or unduly negative. I think it can either be a sign of anxiety or security, depending on associated behaviours, level of attachment, time with present carers etc.

meoverhere Tue 02-Dec-14 12:07:50

I can tell the difference because if she gets really stressed and then behaves younger, she tends to be very 'push-pull', shoving me away despite acting like she does want physical affection.

That's really interesting. A few weeks after she started to regress, she started doing this too (sometimes).

Thank you everyone. Seems like... as with everything else... you can't really ever know exactly what's going on and therefore whether we are reacting/responding in the right way.

I appreciate all your a is/experience (on this and everything else smile)

Italiangreyhound Wed 03-Dec-14 23:16:23

meoverhere my little lad has been home over 6 months. He did regress a bit at the start. He wanted me to feed him like a baby. he wanted cuddles during dinner.

In my case I saw it as positive although I would not say it is always positive.

I also feel in a way it is more a case of if your child is regressing, how to deal with it.

With our son we let him regress, and I did everything for him he wanted (if I could - he wanted to be carried everywhere but at 3 it was just not possible!), so I did hand holding when walking on the wall (him not me!), cutting up his food, putting his shoes and coat on, dressing him, feeding him when he asked, wiping his bum etc etc. After a few months we began to encourage him to put his own shoes on, put his own coat on etc etc. Gradually, he took real pride in being able to get himself dressed, and often did it as a kind of - Hey look at me! I had to stay out of the room until he was dressed and then he would 'surprise me' by having got himself ready. He is now, I think, bang on target for what your 'average' four year old could do for himself and in some ways his table manners are better than our dd! But then her table manners were better at four!

So I am not sure it is good or bad, and if they get stuck being younger for longer I would probably want to address it; but a regression followed by progress would be (I think) very normal and probably to some degree very appropriate for a child who joins a family by adoption. If ur son had not regressed I would have been surprised. AND our dd regressed a bit, and even I regressed a bit. So on balance I would say 'normal' rather than good or bad IMVHO!

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