For many Littles age regression is a coping mechanism, a way to deal with a too stressful job or overly demanding boss. A way to step away from the chaos of being an adult for awhile, providing a safe haven for their mind to recharge and regroup.
A pacifier may help a little break many types of bad habits, replacing nail biting, chewing on their hair, smoking, or using chewing gum or candies… it may also be the answer to nighttime teeth grinding, though for sleep a dental guard is a better option.
For an overly anxious or empathic little, replacing the nightly news with cartoons, Disney, Pixar, or Anime, maybe the perfect solution to unwinding without increasing their worries.
Online or offline game play, like World of Warcraft, Diablo, Minecraft, Age of Empires, or Call of Duty can play a huge role when life seems to be moving too fast or to keep an overactive mind from obsessing over what might happen.
A large stuffie can serve as a warm body substitute at naptime, or nighttime, if the little is in a LDR or if the caregiver travels a lot. A purse-size stuffie can serve to provide the little that has to travel a little extra security on flights or as a focus to escape a panic attack.
Advice to Daddy/Mommy Dom/me For the Little who sometimes struggles with regression:
- Stay in Daddy Dom mode for them and hold space for them to join you there by using playful nicknames or using ‘little one’, ‘baby girl/boy’…
- Take time for play and general silliness
- Play games, do puzzles, or color with them
- Even a nature hike can be a Daddy/Mommy Dom/me little activity… enjoy nature through the joyous, rose-colored glasses of a little.
- Help them dress/undress
- Run all baths/start all showers to check the temperature. Add the bubblebath or measure the bath salts, even if you ‘let them’ or ‘help them’ pour it into the water. Assist them into and out of the tub/shower, reminding them to be careful so they don’t slip. Watch them bathe, or help them wash. Washing their hair and rinsing it is a n especially rewarding practice for both.
- Brush and Style their hair into ponytails, braids, etc…
- Help them at mealtime by cutting up their food and/or feeding them bites. In a restaurant, offer bites from your plate to be less conspicuous. Also in a restaurant, order for them, if possible from the child’s menu
- Offer to hold their hand when crossing the street
- Always open the car door and insist on helping them get into the car, buckle their seat-belt and close the door.
- When getting out of the car, remind them to wait on you for your help because they are too little to get out of the car by themselves. Walk around the vehicle, maintaining eye contact through the windows, open the door, unlatch their belt, offer a hand to assist them from the vehicle and close/lock the door then hold their hand until they are safely on the sidewalk or across the street etc.
- Remember that crowded stores can turn grocery or clothing shopping into a nightmare for a little prone to anxiety. Hold hands and use reassurances, like ‘You are safe with me’, ‘I’m so proud of you for being so brave’, ‘Only a little while longer, we’re almost done,’ can make all the difference. If a shopping trip has to be cut short, don’t make a big deal about it, your little one is stressed enough.