These days it can begin to feel as though you need some serious qualifications to keep up with your children and everything that is expected of you as a parent. Not least of these expectations is knowing every step of your child’s development, how to encourage their development, what milestones they should be hitting and when, and what to do if they don’t. So here is the lowdown on what you really need to know about your child’s development.
There Is No right or Wrong
Every child, just like every adult, is different. This means that children develop at different ages and in different ways. Standardised expectations of development stages can be confusing, and often worrying and upsetting for parents. Some babies crawl from an early age, while some don’t and choose either to bum shuffle or skip crawling altogether and go straight to walking!
So if your baby is the only one amongst your friends not yet crawling, don’t sweat it! Your baby will (or won’t) crawl when they are ready. The same goes for most stages of baby and child development, including walking, talking, teething, feeding themselves, and sleeping through the night.
There Are Some Milestones You Need to Know About
While you should try not stress if your child isn’t quite keeping up with their peers, there are some milestone red flags that you need to be aware of. These include;
- Not smiling or reacting to noise by 3 months
- Has trouble holding their head upright for periods of time by 7 months
- Isn’t reaching for objects or doesn’t seem to focus well by 7 months
- Isn’t walking by 18 months
- Doesn’t know at least 6 works by 18 months
- Other people still find it difficult to understand them when they speak by 3
There Are Things You Can Do to Encourage Development, But Don’t Force It
Naturally we all want to encourage our child’s development, and help them to learn and grow. This is fantastic, and supportive and encouraging parents is paramount during a child’s school years. It’s also great to engage your toddlers in activities which support their Early Years development.
But here’s the thing; push them too far, too hard, or too soon and what you will inevitably end up with is; at best, resentful kids who associate learning and development with negative feelings, or at worst, plain old regression.
There’s a fine line between encouraging and pushing, and a child who feels as though they are being shoved in the direction of development may simply stop doing the thing you wanted them to develop altogether.
By all means, introduce new activities with your children, or expand upon existing ones, but if they become frustrated, angry, or withdraw totally then don’t force them. Try again in a few weeks or a month or two; if you pursue it before they are ready you may do more damage than good.
Most of All: Let Kids Be Kids!
There is a lot to be said for just letting kids be kids; let them explore, get messy, take risks, and develop naturally. There is so much for children to contend with as they get older these days, and I don’t think that enough emphasis is put on children’s play. Kids learn and develop best through play, so most of all: let kids be kids and play!