Anniversaries and Regression

Anniversaries can be a painful time for fosters and adopted kids and those times are passed onto the caregivers and parents.

These can the be anniversaries of all kinds of events.

  • Birthdays
  • The day the child was removed from an abusive/neglectful home by social services
  • The placement or removal of a child from a foster situation
  • Adoption Day
  • First day of school
  • In short, any event that has significance to a child

When these anniversaries occur, it can trigger trauma memories that can manifest as fear and anxiety. Often this turns into a regression of behaviors. A eight year old can suddenly be acting like a four year old. I've seen circumstances where the child has started to carve writing into kitchen tables, draw or paint on the walls, start to talk baby talk, and so on. These regressions typically meet the emotional age the kid has reached--which tend to halt at the point of which trauma begins but before a new safe and trusted environment has been found.

Kids can seem to have absolutely no idea of what is right or wrong at this point.

Child carves in kitchen table.
Parent exclaims, "What are you doing? This isn't the way a big girl behaves?"
Child shrugs, "Ya so?"

The "Ya So" can often be a defense mechanism. "I'm in trouble, so I'm just going to act like it doesn't matter." There are probably a couple of things going on. First, the kid is trying to make getting in trouble no big deal--this is learned behavior--and the second, the kid is testing the parent. "I've been dumped SO many times by people just as nice as you. ARE you going to stick around when times are tough. Lets find out..."

Anniversaries can be rough, but each and every one you get through where the child comes out feeling safe and loved, the closer you are to helping that kid become a strong and well adjusted person.


I get a child who starts

I get a child who starts acting half her age. Baby talk starts being used. Often there is also use of wrong cases in speech.

"Me wants that"