Progression Not Regression

My son Jude
My son Jude

My son is in the middle of a regression. I don’t really know what sent him there but I am thinking it may be the combo effects of another little one being added to the community as well as the fact that he is interacting more and more with my 8 month old niece. Whatever it is that is creating this regression it is beginning to take its toll on mom! My (almost) 20 month old son is suddenly waking multiple times a night, he is whining throughout the day, he has serious separation anxiety, he hollers “MOMA!” every few minutes, he is not eating very well and has begun chewing on his clothes and fingers as well as babbling and sometimes screaming, using mostly baby noises that were no longer part of his every growing vocabulary.

So what has happened to my son? Is this regression or is this just a part of his progression? Now that I think about it labels like “regression” are all over the place, many times when a child acts out or does something out of his normal pattern it is called a regression. According to the dictionary the definition of regression is: “the reversion to a chronologically earlier or less adapted pattern of behavior and feeling.” Now I know for a fact that we are not going backwards in time, my son is never decreasing in intelligence and his feelings are only on the incline, his behavior even though it may seem to be moving to an earlier state is now just a way to communicate in the state that he is in now. Now the work really begins because as his mother I must now realize that my son is progressing to a new stage in his life and it is now necessary for us to both learn ways to deal with things in this new stage. According to the dictionary the definition of progress is: “growth or development; continuous improvement”

I am by no means saying that I have the answers because I still am not completely sure what to do with the fact that “MOMA!” gets hollered every few minutes in my home, that he hardly lets me move several feet from him and that I can’t seem to keep him from chewing on all his clothes right now or that he seems to think that his baby cousin is a pillow or that some days he seems to have completely forgotten how to communicate in any way that I can understand him. The first step for me is to realize that we are not regressing but progressing and that this is just a new stage with new challenges for us both to meet head on! We are both (like the definition states) “growing and developing; continuously improving.”

Jasmine is a co-housing community living mama with a passion for fierce writing she blogs.

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Senstivity strained by boundary pushing

Responding with sensitivity. Keeping everyone’s dignity in tact. Using positive reinforcement and active listening instead of punishment and negative reaction. All of these practices are something I firmly believe in. I believe children are incentivized to behave well when their needs are met, their work praised, and their failures patiently worked through, instead of harped on. I believe in teaching my children about consequences, instead of punishing them for their actions. I am a big believer in patient parenting.

And then I met six.

Six has strained my relationship with my daughter, my role as an attachment parent, and all my fancy new fangled parenting skills. How exactly does one parent with patience during daily doses of the following:

“Mom! Can we play on the playground?”

“I’m sorry honey but not today, it’s raining.”

“Awww… but I want to! Just for a minute?”

“No dear, the playground is all wet and we need to get in out of the rain.”

“I don’t mind if I get wet. I want to play on the playground.”

“I understand that you do, but the answer is no.”

“But I never get to play on the playground!!”

“Monkey, you have played on the playground every day this week. Today it is raining. We are not playing on the playground in the rain.”

“Can I just go see if the playground is wet before we go?”

“No, clearly the playground is wet if it is raining. We are not staying, we are getting in out of the rain.”

“But I won’t play on it, I just want to look at it!”

“Monkey, you have asked me at least five times, I have answered no each time. There will not be a change in my answer. If you ask me again I will have to take away a privilege. Do you understand me?”

eyerolling “Yes” sigh “I wish I could play on the playground.”

It is enough to drive all notions of attachment parenting right out the window. To make things worse, if I ask her a question she doesn’t want to answer, she will just pretend I never spoke. It has gotten to the point where both my husband and I will reassuringly say “It’s okay honey, I heard you, you did actually speak out loud.”

What is a parent to do? I am trying not to envision my child with ugly green horns and bulbous spots when this behavior rears its ugly head, but I go not have endless reserves of patience. I can’t just turn off all my feelings and not react, even though I know her behavior is developmental, that she is testing her individuality and my boundaries. I know she is not out to get me, but it’s hard to know that in the middle of an argument.

I thought I would share a few of the coping methods I have attempted to employ in staying calm in the face of her powerful persistence.

1. Hum The Girl from Ipanema in my head and imagine I am all alone in an elevator that no one, especially my arguing child, can get into.

2. Envision myself on a beach drinking an icy cold fru-fru drink while a massage therapist works all the argument caused knots out of my shoulder.

3. Remind myself that calm and consistent responses will make a strong and healthy child.

4. Take a deep breath and warn Monkey that she is about to make me very angry. “Honey, I am getting very frustrated, if this continues, I may yell at you.”

If those don’t work I try to forgive myself for yelling, and her for pushing. I also try to apologize for losing my cool, and explain to her why I did. I use I statements when doing so; “I am sorry I yelled, I was feeling like you weren’t listening to me, and that was frustrating for me.” Usually she will apologize too, and we will hug, and the day will go on. On really bad days, we just have a fight, and then I lock myself in the bathroom alone for twenty solid minutes (after hubby is home) and either: read a book, do my nails, or take a long hot shower so I can recover some of my resources.

What do you do to stay calm in the face of unbelievable, epic persistence? What techniques do you use to keep your cool and respond with sensitivity? I would love it if all of you would share your ideas with me in the comments. I think we can all parent more patiently if we have a larger arsenal to draw from.