Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Regressions

Ephraim had gotten to the point where it usually only took about 10 minutes to put him to sleep at night (we're talking after he finishes his bottle to the point he falls asleep). However, those days appear to have disappeared before our eyes and we were a little confused. Last night, I rocked him for over an hour before he finally fell asleep at 8:45. The night before, it took Chris 45 minutes to put the little guy out.

During my over an hour of rocking and singing, I had time to think. "What has changed that is making it so hard for him to fall asleep?" "What do we need to do differently?" Then I remembered seeing a chapter about "regressions" in the amazing book Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray. When Ephraim was finally out, I drowsily crawled into bed and cracked open the book.

There it was. An explanation of what is going on and how to deal with it. I am so constantly grateful for people who know so much about the issues surrounding adoption and who are kind enough to write about them for the rest of us.

I learned it's normal for a child with the complex and hard background of so many adopted children to go through periods of regression where progress takes a few steps backward. Gray recommends not jumping to change your routines and methods, etc. when this happens (which is so counter intuitive) because often your child is testing to see if you are reliable, trustworthy, and consistent.

As for practical ideas of what to do during this time, here's what stuck out to me:

Increase nurture and structure. I've learned that adoptive parenting is largely about high structure and high nurture and Gray says to increase both of these things while your child is going through a regression. Keep a normal schedule and show your child more love.

Use your calming ritual more often. If you have a sort of calming ritual that you do with your child, do it more often for a while. Calming rituals are just ways of cuddling with your child that calm him down. Our calming ritual involves Ephraim laying in our arms and rubbing our fingers. It's amazing what this does for him!

Add delight. Gray says to allow your child to do more of those things that bring him delight each day until he comes out of his regression. For Ephraim, we will probably allow more playing outside, watching Baby Einstein, and running around the house while Dada chases him.

So here we go. I'll let you know how it all works!

1 comment:

Sara said...

I'm really glad that you posted this - I need to be reminded of this with Sadie and Sebastian. As time has passed it's been easier to identify regressions and simply growing pains a bit more easily. Thanks for this post :)

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