MMS News February, 2012
Events and Reminders
Mon. & Tues. February 20th and 21st: School Closed. President’s Day(s).
Thursday February 23rd: Staff Meeting. All children who are picked up at 1:30, must be picked up by 12:25. All other schedules stay the same.
Thurs. & Fri. March 1st & 2nd: Parent Participation Days. Your classroom teacher will inform you of the specific habits in your child’s classroom. As a school we set up these days so you can spend some time in the classroom with your child. Let your child show you his/her favorite work, a favorite friend, and the routine of his/her day. It is an important day for your child, so as fun as it is to talk with the other adults, please stay focused on your child. The teachers will run the classroom as usual, so this is a real chance to see what your child’s school day is like!
We all know that children grow. Usually they grow in a forward moving direction: they conquer the toilet, they become more verbal, they jump higher, sit longer etc. However, sometimes their growth happens in what appears to be a backwards motion. Parents and teachers alike are often concerned when they see this, but I would argue that it is just part of the growth process. It is a difficult part to be sure, but it is a typical part of child development.
In the past few weeks, a number of parents and teachers have approached me about the regression -or backwards moving development- that they have witnessed. It can be frustrating when your student or your child starts doing things that you thought s/he had outgrown. It is understandable to be frustrated. One’s first instinct is to think, “Not this again! I thought we were past this!” That is normal. No one wants to go backwards, but regressing or exhibiting an immature behavior, has its place in the cycle of growing.
As Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility” (yes, I have lots of superhero references after raising two boys, sorry). With a new set of skills, the ability to do new things, and be more grown up, most children feel accomplished and proud. Suddenly the adults in their lives expect more from them! The novelty of a new skill can wear off, leaving the child just feeling the workload increase. Responsibility can be overwhelming and can make the child want to run back to babyhood. Hence, your child, our student, begins behaving in ways that you might not have seen in months. Children are still learning how to map words onto their feelings. It is easy for them to have too much on their minds to be able to put it into words. They also do not have much insight and will feel upset about things and not be able to identify that. So they show us instead.
Why does this happen? Some of it I touched upon in the above paragraph. Children feel the burden of their growth and want to go back to a time when they were little and less was expected of them. But they might also need to revisit an earlier developmental behavior to ‘re-experience’ it. Maybe try it on for size as if to assure themselves that they are done with that for sure. Regression is not always a sign of stress in your child. Being able to discern the difference only takes some careful watching on your part.
When you see your child regressing, take careful notice of what is happening. First, observe.
You might ask yourselves these questions:
How is s/he regressing? Wetting the bed, tantrums? Try to observe the regressed behavior with a scientific approach.
What could be the trigger for this? Is there a change in schedule? A traveling parent? Visiting relative? A sibling who just learned to walk or talk?
Once you think you have identified what is happening, sympathize with your child. (Yes the same person who peed in the bed 5 times last night and screamed all the way down on the elevator and you’re really mad at right now!) You need to sympathize so that your child hears that you are on her/his side. Acknowledge that however your child feels is ok. Every feeling is right. What might not be ok is a particular behavior. Children need a lot of conversation about the difference between how you feel and what you do. We cannot control our feelings, we can control our actions. Through this type of conversation, your child can start to interpret his/her feelings, begin to verbalize them and then help think of ways that they can get some of what they need in a more positive way. Some words of caution, spend a few days observing a regression to see if your child is simply trying it on for size or is actually asking for help. When you think you know what the problem is, ask your child, don’t tell them what is bothering them. What if you got it wrong? Maybe you didn’t pick up on what the issue is. If you ask them what the issue is, it leaves room for him/her to tell you. If you aren’t successful, you can suggest what you think the issue is and listen for their response. In this way, you will carve out a lifetime of a conversation, with you being a good listener and good helper in solving problems. When the issues are bigger later on, your child will remember you as a person who listened to him/her instead of just talking ‘at’ him/her.
“Touchpoints” by Dr. Brazelton. He has a 0-3 years version and a 3-6 years edition as well. He is excellent in combining development with parenting approaches. He provides a very balanced perspective on being a strong parent who invites an emotional connection to your children.