Is it just because my son ‘isn’t meeting’ his developmental milestones that I feel negatively towards them? Maybe if he was walking from ten months old and speaking full sentences by two years old I may feel differently about the whole development issue. I doubt it though.
My son didn’t walk until he was nineteen months. All we heard from health professionals was that children should start taking steps around twelve months. So, when he reached fifteen months, sixteen months and so on and still no signs of walking, we felt a little concerned. Why though? All we ever hear from parents is how “all children are different”. It is something that never crossed my mind till becoming a dad, but every single child does what they want, when they want and when they are ready! With that in mind, we still felt under pressure (from multiple sources, no way am i tainting health visitors as a bad bunch!) that he should definitely be walking by eighteen months. Luckily, this type of pressure threw me into the complete opposite direction of not worrying at all. I secretly love to not listen to people and go with my gut, not their ‘expert opinions’. I trusted he’d do his own thing in his own time. Come nineteen months old, he took his first, confident steps. Within a week, he was running around like crazy.
This month he just turned three and where he loves to copy every word we say (we now must be extra careful with cursing!!) he still isn’t stringing sentences together. Are we worried? I would say no… not right now. But what we’re told by professionals is a different story. It’s not like he can’t talk, he can ramble on for hours! Our communication with each other is great, he tells us clearly what he wants through his words, maybe no one else understands it, but we do.
Have you ever signed up to those baby development emails? I did. Loads of them. And quite quickly I unsubscribed from them all (again, they're not all bad. Some brands accept all kids are different and do't dictate what they 'should' be doing).
Why is it that every mum/dad/carer I speak to understands that every child is different and that ‘they all get there in their own time’ but the companies that dish out this expert advice seem to contradict that, stipulating that ‘At eighteen months little Sammy should be writing his next piece of classical music to challenge Mozart’. When my boy was eighteen months he learnt to say “boobies” and found out if he throws his food on the wall, it sticks! He wasn’t drawing a circle… he was chewing the crayon. He wasn’t walking let alone playing the xylophone to the tune of twinkle twinkle.
Some kids are quick learners and start walking, talking, composing symphonies… all before their second birthday. I keep having to hammer home the point that there is NO. RIGHT. WAY. Whoever developed these textbook milestones is clearly someone who would be happy with everyone doing the same thing, at the same time, becoming robots and not celebrating the individual characters of our children.
Then there's potty training. Don’t get me started on the amount of times I have heard how he should be dry now at three years old. He isn’t ready to go nappy-less yet. And we are fine with that. He’s telling us “I did a wee wee” or “I do poo poo daddy”. But usually telling us after he’s done it… when we start the training we’re are going to commit and not backtrack, we need to know he can hold it and let us know he needs the toilet.
I read a really interesting piece on toilet training and the dangers of teaching children from too young an age by Dr Steve Hodges M.D - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-hodges-md/potty-training_b_1424826.html. It made me happy to know we’ve waited instead of dealing with the stress and drama of forcing it.
We've recently started to investigate different schooling styles and methods. Just this week my husband met with a local Steiner Waldorf school. He was blown away. They don't teach the national curriculum and the basis of their education just resonated with us massively. The focus isn't on development milestones and meeting criteria, grades, numbers. It is all led by the child through creative and beautiful ways. They see the child's early years (kindergarten) as a place for them to slowly 'wake up' into this world being inspired and stimulated by natural objects, colours and play. Not scored/graded on their ability to retain information.
Then we saw the price tag of £1,000 per term for kindergarten. Why isn't THIS type of school funded by the government? But that is a whooooole other topic i don't have the energy to go into right now... Education.
If you’re a parent and thinking your child is ‘behind’… don’t fret. Like I’ve said five thousand times in this blog post already, they’ll get there. Be it with additional support or help, or on their own. It’s all good. The more we stress as parents, the worse it will get.
And unsubscribe from those emails if they’re annoying you... ;-)