One of the questions I hear most often from moms is “should I be worried about . . . “. Nine times out of ten, the answer is no, probably not. As moms, we worry. It’s just part of the job.
At one point or another, we’ve probably all worried about something with our child’s development. The good news is, things usually turn out just fine.
They even usually turn out just fine when your child’s development isn’t on track, as I found out when I was told one of my son’s was on the autistic spectrum. It seemed like a HUGE deal at the time but today, no one even notices. He’s ahead of the game academically and socially he really just has a few little quirks. Overall, he’s just learned to deal with things, he’s compensated, and we’ve learned to adapt too.
Here’s the thing though, every child is their own person. They do things at different rates and in their own ways. It is natural to worry, but most of the time we don’t need to.
My oldest son didn’t walk until he was 17 months old. I worried at the time. He was a preemie. I blamed it on that. Looking back, I think he just wasn’t interested, and as an oldest child he didn’t have any older siblings to mimic so he did things on his own schedule. My pediatrician never worried — and that, to me, is key. If you have a pediatrician you trust, getting their opinion on where your child is developmentally can be a huge comfort.
My son didn’t walk but that kid was talking in sentence when he was 12 months old. Most kids don’t talk as well as he did until they are much older. Does that means he was advanced? Nope. He just liked to talk.
But it also means he wasn’t behind just because he didn’t walk until later. You have to look at the big picture when it comes to development. Sometimes kids focus on one skill at a time. Sometimes they grow and develop in spurts and seem stagnant in between. Don’t let them fool you though — they are learning every second of the day even if they don’t have any new tricks to show for it.
Look at the big picture. Is your child growing and developing normally, overall but struggling in one area? Are you seeing growth even if it is slow? Then give him time. If you are worried, talk to your pediatrician. In many areas you can get an evaluation by early childhood intervention specialists. I’d recommend a chat with the pediatrician before going this route but they can be a wonderful resource.
Don’t assume it’s the end of the world even if something is “wrong”. My second son didn’t talk clearly until he was 4. His comprehension was through the roof but he couldn’t get the words to come out right. After months of evaluations and therapy meetings with our local early intervention group, they came back with a high likelyhood that my son was autistic. I had known something was different with my son since he was a week old. He was different but special and in several areas he just blew us away with how quickly he learned (still does). Hearing that felt like the end of the world though. I worried about his future. I worried he would be bullied. In the end, the official diagnosis came back as Aspergers. Today he’s amazing and unless you put him in a loud, crowded room (those make him hide under the table and cover his ears) you wouldn’t even wonder if he was different. He’s got a bright future. Being different just makes him stronger in so many ways.
Don’t compare kids. Kids are individuals. Don’t get caught into the trap of comparing where your child is compared to anyone else. We’ve all had friends who want to know where your child is on the growth chart’s compared with theirs or if your child has hit milestones the same time yours did.
“Your child didn’t walk until he was one? Oh. Mine walked at 9 months.”. It’s always said a little smuggly. Don’t play that game. It does not matter when your child hits developmental milestones. When he walks/talks/sings the ABC’s does not hint at future genius.
With twins at home right now (want to read more about the twins? Our twin story starts with a crazy ultrasound), I’ll admit it’s a bit of a struggle not to compare them just because they are both right there. One crawled first. One clapped first. They are different babies. They are BOTH on track developmentally even if they aren’t doing the same things at the same time.
Our pediatrician told us a story the other day of a twin mom who was worried because one twin was talking and the other twin “wasn’t talking much at all”. When the pediatrician asked how much the non-talking twin was saying and the mom told her, “not much. Just 20-30 words”, the pediatricians response was, “that’s talking enough“. They were both fine. One just talked a lot but that didn’t mean the other twin was behind.
If something is wrong, be careful not to label your child. Your child is not their label. When my son was first diagnosed I was tempted to tell everyone. “This is my son. He has Aspergers.” The two were linked whenever I introduced him but I found that when I did that people saw him differently. A few years ago I made the decision to stop labeling my son. I stopped telling people unless there was a need to know. When he was younger I felt the need to tell people, to explain that there was a reason why he did certain thing.
You know what I found?
Other kids did weird things too.
Sometimes the quirks weren’t because of the Aspergers. They were just who he was. he was allowed to be quirky too.
Now that he’s older I don’t tell people unless there’s a reason to. More often than not, when people find out, they are surprised. They have no idea that he’s different from any other child. He’s learned the skills he needs to adapt and so have I. He is not his diagnosis and the less I’ve labeled him the less I even thing about it.
Don’t rush milestones. I’ve seen this with new parents but to some degree we have all done it at one point or another. It’s exciting when kids hit milestones . . . but also a little sad too because they grow up so fast. As a first time mom, I encouraged my kids towards each milestone. I had them “practice” sitting up well before they were ready. I encouraged them to crawl to me and announced to the world as soon as they put one little hand in front of the other.
I don’t like to be rushed though, do you? Let kids work towards each milestone at their own pace. Don’t stress about it. You’ll find that some of those worries you had about their development disappear and before you know it they are hitting that milestone you were worried about.
Don’t worry before you need to. Sometimes, there is something wrong. It’s usually little but sometimes it could be big. Go to the people who have the answers. Ask moms who have been there before (Avoid the moms who want to compare milestones though). Talk to your doctor. Chat with someone from the local school district if your child is preschool age or older. Find out if there is something to worry about first. If there is, don’t let your worry consume you. Worry is normal. But worry for a bit then get to work finding out what your child needs from you.
Have you ever worried about your child’s development?
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