When we talk about parent stress we usually think about sleepless nights and extra financial demands, but parenting also seems to come with a degree of competitiveness these days. The stress of whether my child is reaching milestones as quickly as the next? In many cases parents can become somewhat obsessed with their child reaching a particular milestone: crawling by a certain age, walking earlier than the next child and toilet training before the age of two. In so many ways parents begin to miss out on the journey of parenting and their child’s development when they insist on jumping from one milestone to the next
Of course, knowing that your child is developing well is essential and we use milestones as a general guideline on which to measure this development. But getting hung up on the particular age at which it should happen and comparing your (very unique) child to the next does the process of growing up and facilitating that growth in your child a complete injustice.
How NOT to get caught up in milestone madness
- Enjoy the moment: Enjoying the process of parenting comes with a measure of patience and mindfulness. Being present in the moment with your child and relishing in their current achievements will serve you both far better than pushing for the next developmental milestone and worrying that it has not yet been achieved
- Foster self esteem: Focussing on current achievements and successes with your child will foster a greater sense of self-esteem in your child and provide you with valuable bonding time to simply enjoy each other
- Stages not ages: Watch for stages of development rather than ages of development. In other words, watch out for the stage at which baby gives his first smile, rolls over, sits up, crawls, walks, talks and is ready to toilet train. Those stages will happen so try not to get too hung up in the when, but watch out for the how. How does your child move from one stage to the next and marvel in the journey that is development with them. It doesn’t actually matter when your child achieves these skills as most children will at some point.
- Its not a competition: If you find yourself in conversations with other parents who are keen to compare their child’s achievements with your child, and you feel uncomfortable, try saying nothing or very little. As parents, we are all very proud of our children and willing to talk about them so if someone wants to talk about their child, let them. If they ask about your child in comparison, you can make a general comment such as “”We are just so amazed at how much he is changing every day!”
- Developmental Delays: Children progress in their development at their own rate but some children will take longer due to premature birth, illness, disability, or even problems within their environment. These delays can be temporary or more long term.
- Concerns? If you are concerned about your child’s growth or development, speak to people you know will be supportive – a close friend, your partner, family. If possible, seek professional assistance – community nurse, GP, psychologist or other allied health professionals. Many chemists now have professionals on site to answer any concerns or help you weight baby so pop in and have a chat.
Developmental Milestone charts are designed to give a general guideline as to when we might expect to see certain skills and abilities emerge in our children. They should provide an age range, e.g. 6 to 9 months, rather than a specific age. Children progress in their growth and development at their own rate and, in most cases, will catch up to their peers at some point. Our children grow up so quickly, let’s try and enjoy their achievements as they happen and marvel at the amazing things they are learning to do each and every day.
If you are concerned about your child’s development, seek professional support as early intervention can help identify any challenges and assist your child with their natural developmental progress. Changes Psychology has several psychologists passionate about helping parents and their young children