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Question of the Week - Signs of a Regression

Because my daughter goes through those periods of disequilibrium on a quarterly basis (instead of the half-year basis it says in all the books), sometimes it feels like we are constantly dealing with developmental regressions. Which is, of course, frustrating. It can feel like every time we see progress, we back slide in development.

I know this isn't true, though. Not all progress is lost. Not by a long shot. I would say it's actually 3 or 4 steps forward, 1 step back. (Maybe sometimes it's 2 steps back.) And what's really neat about the quarterly developmental cycles is that we get to see the Pumpkin make developmental progress earlier than most her age.

But since we got through these regressions a lot, and now with two kids, we are getting really good at knowing the signs.

The Pumpkin's top 10 signs that she's going through a developmental regression are:
10. She wants help with things she used to want to do herself, like washing her hands.
9. She insists she can't do something she could before and needs us to do it for her, like putting on her shoes.
8. She says she's "scared" of things that she hasn't mentioned in a while, like dark rooms or "biting snakes" and sharks in her room.
7. She goes through a phase of separation anxiety, from school drop-offs to needing us to wait for her so we can go downstairs together.
6. Her ability to concentrate goes out the window, and she flits from one thing to another without putting anything away.
5. Any impulse control she had developed is pretty much gone, with her grabbing things from the counter and doing things she shouldn't like pushing her brother which totally drive us crazy.
4. She has difficulty "listening to her body" when she is hungry or thirsty or has to go potty, resulting in some meltdowns and pee pee in her underpants.
3. She has potty regressions, including emptying her bladder at 3:00 AM in our bed while she slept like a rock through it--until we finally were able to wake her up and she and I had a middle-of-the-night shower while Londo did middle-of-the-night laundry and bed change.
2. There are unreasonable, unforeseen tantrums and meltdowns over things that normally wouldn't be a big deal, like not wanting to wear jeans or even pants even though it's cold outside.

And the number 1 sign that my daughter is going through a developmental regression...



1. Trouble Sleeping! (Even more than usual, that is.) It all just gets worse than usual, from not being settling down prior to bed, to a long time falling asleep, to being wide awake in the middle of the night or really early in the wee hours of the morning.

Yes, I'm sure you all guessed it. It's pretty obvious. The good news is that it shouldn't last much longer, and at least she is somewhat more able to reason and think things through than she was for any of the previous regressions.

Here's an example of that: When she peed in our bed at 3:00 AM and was so hard to wake, I thought for sure that she would flip out when she finally woke up and I took her into the shower. I thought there would for sure be one of those middle-of-the-night crazy tantrums that we used to go through, especially trying to get her to shower. But no, once she woke up and we explained what happened, I whisked her into the bathroom without her making even a peep. I hurriedly got us both undressed and started warming up the shower.

As I started to usher her into the shower, she balked for a second. Oh, no. Here we go, I thought. But you'll never guess what she did: She reached over for some bath toys and then got in the shower with them and me. No complaining, not upset at all. We even had a fun and quick shower. When we got out and she went to brush her teeth, I had to explain that it was still the middle of the night and we needed to go back to sleep. And she said, "Oh, right." And we did.

So this week's Question of the Week is:
What are the signs your kid(s) displays when they are going through a regression?

My son is still so young (21 months) that his signs are pretty average for toddlers, I think. He needs more help falling asleep. He wakes up in the night, usually just once a night for a few nights in a row. He gets extra clingy to me. He gets extra fussy, especially at the Witching Hour(s) before and after dinner.

What about your kids? Do you get typical signs of clingy-ness and fussiness? Have any fun tantrums or night wakings? Have you figured out any patterns or timing to the regressions? Do share, because I know we all go through it!


limboland la la said…
Quickie. When does impulse control start?
mom2boy said…
After a couple of weeks of random middle of the night pee accidents, Tate is back in pull ups. He's been having accidents at school during nap time, too, and he had been fine for months. I hadn't given any thought to it being part of a regression. And bigger, more frequent tantrums and morning clingyness, huh, wow, I guess he's hitting all the big signs. I'm really slow at this parenting thing some days...
Becoming Mommy said…
Our biggest sign is he turns "and a half". We know it'll improve around his birthday. This year its not so much regressions as it is attitude problems.
paola said…
Yeah, we get these regressions on a quarterly basis too. In fact both my kids' worst period is the first quarter after a birthday. I don't think either of them does anything much earlier than other kids their age though, in fact I could swear my life on it!

Apart form the antics before bed-time ( the million requests, the last tuck-ins etc) the main sign for us is that Zoe only wants ME, and is down-right rude to her dad! DD is so like her dad personality-wise and so they tend to clash a lot. One day I mentioned to DH, 'You know, Zoe is just like you. YOu get what you want from her much more if you are sweet to her than if you tell her straight. Just like you'. It was such an eye-opener for him to realise his little girl likes to be treated just like he does.

Oh and Kudos for the list.
Charisse said…
I've never thought that Mouse had the 2x/year pattern, but she does go through periods of major brain growth and the signs are almost always:

A) wtf it is 11:30 and even my little night-owl maniac is normally asleep before this!

B) whiney whiney whiney

That's recently, I'm starting to have trouble remember the patterns before she was about 5. (She's now 18 days away from 7.)
MommyEm said…
Can you exist in regression? That's what it feels like with Dorothy some days. I am sure there is a pattern to her behavior, but I haven' put my finger on it just yet.
Cloud said…
I think our Pumpkin's biggest signs right now are the potty thing- she starts having accidents, which she doesn't usually do anymore- and a sharp decrease in her willingness to cooperate with us. EVERYTHING becomes a battle of wills. And then suddenly, it isn't.

With Petunia, it is sleep, sleep, sleep. Her sleep goes haywire, she won't go to sleep without crying... and then suddenly that rights itself.
Kristina said…
Well this may explain part of Lily's behavior lately. Lots of tantrums and very very clingy to me and ignoring dad more. I think its because she is starting to speak.
Lisa F. said…
omg MommyEm, seriously!! I feel like we have 9 months of regression & 3 months of relative ease, coinciding w/summer. Been sifting through flawed "data" trying to figure it out w/our 5.5 y.o. of course we're also dealing w/adjusting from lovely supportive playschool to public kindergarten so that's hard too.

Thanks for the list Caramama, makes it easier to deal with when I think about it like this, although the longevity of the phase wears me down.
hush said…
What @mom2boy basically said. Check: clinginess, separation anxiety, nighttime wetting... luckily we never took him out of Pull-ups at night, but now notice they're not dry in the am anymore, so I'm glad I bought the big box of them at Costco.

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