Around the time school was canceled because of coronavirus, my 5-year-old started climbing in bed with me every night. His excuses got increasingly baroque: bad dreams, a spider, hundreds of spiders, a black hole.
He started playing “baby." He sucked on comfort blankets he had previously abandoned. Finally, he said he wanted to climb back into my tummy.
What I was witnessing was a slow-motion regression, all the way back to the womb.
Stress and anxiety can show up in all kinds of ways in children: irritability, defiance, clinginess. But one of the most common responses is regression. Sleep regression and toddler potty training regressions are common, but psychologists say all children (and adults) may regress in times of stress.
Lisa Tolin is a journalist and Special Projects Editor at NBC News.