Developmental regression, which means going back to a younger way of behaving, is not unusual in children of various ages, and especially in children who have recently been placed for adoption. While regression may be frustrating to you as parents, it can be worked through as a family.
Regression allows you as new foster parents to nurture your child at an earlier stage of development, thus helping create and strengthen familial bonds. While regression could be linked to grief or emotional turmoil, it is a normal stage that enables you to care for your child in a way that they may not have received earlier in their childhood development. In this article, we will summarize some tips and steps to take to deal with sleep regression in your adopted child.
Sometimes sleep regression begins very subtly. Pay attention to your child’s sleeping habits and potential signs of grief or distressed emotions. It is expected and very likely your child will regress to behaviors such as needing to be rocked to sleep in the immediate period after being adopted. If you start noticing some signs, then it can help prepare you physically and emotionally to be there to nurture your child through their regression.
Set a Timeline
Regression is not a permanent set of circumstances you will deal with forever. Think critically about how your child is regressing and set a timeline for your family. For example, give your child a few months to shift toward a normal sleeping routine and schedule. Slowly begin to establish the sleep routine you want to have in gradual stages over the course of the monthly timeline you have set.
Set Up Nighttime Shifts
Establishing a rotating “duty” of nighttime shifts can help you during the regression period. It will allow you to get a proper night’s sleep and maintain your own healthy sleep schedule while also giving your child the attention and sleep schedule shift needed. A strong support group can also help with nighttime shifts if you are a single parent.
Educate and Be Willing to Learn
There are many resources available to new adoptive parents that will teach you about regression and offer the support and advice you seek during this time. Multiple books have been published focusing on sleep regression in newly adopted children. Also, family radio shows and podcasts are available to listen to as an additional source of information.
Maintain a Positive Mindset
It may seem easy to fall into a trap of negative thoughts and fears such as incessantly wondering if you are promoting bad habits or worrying about your own lack of sleep alongside your child’s. Try and reframe your thoughts positively by reminding yourself that this will not last and that you are not alone. Keep trying your best to learn and slowly shift away from sleep regression. Rely on your support group to keep your own mental, emotional, and physical health in check as well. If you are healthy and positive, it will make this normal process easier for the family!