The consistently insightful and thoughtful School of Life explains why some people regress to childish behavior when triggered by specific interactions. They explain that this inability to act one’s age is a defense mechanism based on a traumatic event from childhood.
When there is a certain kind of crisis, we should notice how fast we fall through the floors of adulthood, ten or twenty or forty years/stories below the present, to the child-like basement. …
They also suggest looking inward to find and care for the child in oneself in order to address adult situations.
We’re so afraid of patronising ourselves, we can find it hard to accept the bewildering way in which, in certain areas, we truly can be slammed back into being a frightened, panicky, perspective-less young version of ourselves. Only by accepting the risk can we start to notice the damage in us and the traumatized responses we are still leaning on, and then put in place more appropriate and more self-protective measures.