That said, I would like to remind you that bringing up a child with special needs is a humbling, ego busting, negative self efficacy promoter and occasionally even a lonely job where it feels akin to walking down a dark path alone. You are far from alone and doing the best job possible. Remember, you ARE a good parent. If you did not love and care about your children immensely, those negative feelings of insecurity and failure would not rear their ugly head within. Those feeling arise out of frustration and uncertainty that you are not providing the best assistance to those you love the most.
The most powerful self esteem snatcher for a parent of special needs children is to revel in a skill the child has acquired which was not expected. Upon observing your child’s newly acquired skill, strong feelings of hope are felt by the parent. Just when the child achieves a new skill and we allow ourselves permission to dream about their future in a positive light, the child may regress in another area where skills had been acquired long ago. Many parents have thrown up their hands at this point and felt like giving up, cannot take parenting a challenging child any longer or simply feel like a failure while focusing on the child’s regression in skills.
Regressive behavior during development of milestones can actually be a temporary yet necessary development while the child acquires new skills. Can regression be positive? I provide to you a resounding yes. Regressive behavior can result from stress, fear of the unknown, frustration due to challenging circumstances or delving into a new experience or in this case learning a new skill.
Many equate regression in children as returning to a more comfortable time in their life that is not age appropriate. Ie the potty trained child who starts wetting the bed, or the older child who wants a pacifier or bottle which assists them into retreating to a safer more comfortable time in their life. Regression can also pertain to unlearning old behaviors or skills while learning new ones.
Learning the new skill may produce uncertainty in a child. They are entering a new territory that is challenging. In doing so, other skills may be unlearned requiring more attention from the parent for the child as he/her ventures forth with a new challenge. Hence, the child’s progression becomes two steps forward and one step back. Even adults experience this.
Haven’t the majority of we adults experienced temporary loss of skills when dealing with an all encompassing challenge such as death, illness, family challenges? Heck, I recall being so entrenched in a family crisis in the past that I misplaced my car keys only to find that they had been mindlessly deposited in the freezer by me. I recall being preoccupied with other challenges that warranted my attention to the extent that I temporarily lost the ability to write articles. Although I possessed the capability I could find no words to transfer from my mind to paper. I am sure all readers can recall variations of my examples within their own adult lives.