Help! My 6 year old has turned 2!

Call it my very first learning at work. People give all kinds of excuses like “Traffic” or  Alarm malfunction” or “Cute neighbour’s dog howling late night” to justify missing the 9:30 am deadline. Since my initiation into the corporate world, I had always aimed at that corner office and so, I decided to get classy and use “MERCURY RETROGRADE”.
If you are anything like me, learn to blame planet Mercury every time you are late. Just check that the person you are dishing it out to is not another Bejan Daruwala in the making.
And before we create a revolution in the corporate world with this word to explain away our inefficiencies, let’s find out what a Mercury Retrograde means. It’s when Planet Mercury (I capitalize to show respect!) moves at a rate slower than Earth, giving the impression that it is going back.  Simply put- the illusion of a cyclist going backwards as your car overtakes it.

Astrologically, during Mercury retrograde, communications are a mess, travel is fraught with delays and buying electronics is a big no-no.
So why am I telling you all this?

Our children, often create this optical illusion where they seem to be going backwards. Recently, my 6 year old cried like a small baby at the supermarket when I denied her a candy. My normal, quiet, mature-for-her-age daughter went flat bawling and crying while the cameras of the world locked on to me and the supermarket came to a stop. Well, ok, I am exaggerating. Got three you-are-a-pain-in- the-neck look, five poor-you look and nineteen I- am- so- glad- I- am done-with-this-phase-of-my-life-look.
What got me thinking was (not the.. ok, you got me there- the candy had me distracted! ) the fact that a child who had crossed the terrible twos and terrifying threes with giggles and smiles and wounded looks could now go back and become such a brat! 

Don’t you sort of miss the bus once you grow up? Isn’t there a deadline or something?

One morning, a friend complains that her 5 year old was coming back from school with user-unknown pants on him and wet pants in his bag. I pat her on the back with a sympathetic look. “Bio-Break trainings are tough, sweetie”. She looks at me with a terrified look on her face “But he was ALREADY TRAINED”.  I smile with that Zen all-knowing enlightened look for my face and say “REGRESSION – the process of re-adoption of a response that was a characteristic of an earlier phase of development. E.g. Bed-wetting and Thumb -sucking! “(Definition and examples -5 on 5!)
“Dammit, does that mean I have to teach him ALL OVER AGAIN?” she asks with in a low voice, her eyes piercing me like daggers dipped in molten kerala soup.  Her hubby shakes his head at me disapprovingly. The whole bus stop group hangs on in dead silence. Even the street dogs stop messing around and stand in full attention.

I am so dead. Where is the school bus when you really need it? Aah, Mercury Retrograde- The bus has broken down and will be late by half an hour.

Did I mention how dead I am?

A sweet angel at home metamorphoses into a yelling maniac at a birthday party. An independent soldier wars on with the neighbour’s child at daytime and yet won’t sleep without the lights on at night. A –to –be Olympic swimmer suddenly decides that swimming and swimming pools are passé. I tremble in half fear and half-disgust as my daughter imitates an infant giggle. The Illusion of going reverse.-That’s Regression for you. (Thankfully, it has nothing to do with statistics!)

So, while I was writing this blog, I was mulling over its relevance to parents and educators. Why would a mother of two, strapping along a job and a home, need to know these fancy words. The intention of the author is simple.

When you face Regression, KNOW that this is defense mechanisms. Often triggered by stress, frustration or a traumatic event, children feel insecure, angry or scared, and lack the communication skills to express the trauma with his caretakers/adults. As a result, children revert to behaviors that they know will attract the attention of these adults.

Some common causes are the arrival of a new sibling, divorce, dealing with a death, moving or starting a new school or daycare. Now that you are equipped with this knowledge, you may be able to identify the pain behind the behaviour.

Use Regression to form educated hypotheses about your children’s needs. Effectively help them alter behavior and grow into confident and emotionally healthy adults.

1.               Identify the problem: Our children need an audience. Let them know that you see the changing patterns. Ask- why. “Why are we pretending to be Little Arjun?” or “Why has Lata stopped using the Potty? Maybe Arjun has realized that being a younger version of himself helps him get his way and maybe Lata finds the washroom at the day care way too scary. Listen hard. Think harder.

2.               Sympathize:Let them know how tough it is to manage school/life/friends. Tell them how complicated life gets for you sometimes too. A validation of their feelings will go a long way!

3.               Help: Get child out of his misery. If your elder one, all of a sudden shudders at the thought of school, meet the class teacher as well as the subject teacher. Skip the bus and take your child to school. Volunteer for a story telling session at her school. Participate in the food festival. Ask your child to contribute ideas too.

4.               Connect:  My hubby uses the morning bustle to connect with his daughter. It is THEIR time, together. Even in that mad scramble to win the Olympics (read the school bus), they discuss life lessons.  I used to wake up at 5 AM to discuss my macro level problems with my working mom. Get that connect and you will be rewarded with answers. And most importantly, we work to connect, we cuddle, we hug, we hold and soothe, which enables them to let go of their limitations.

And Mercury goes directJ Everything is all right again.
Hope this helped.

BTW, I got the corner office all right- next to the coffee machine. 
Double hurray!
Sending light your way,

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