It’s the question that every parent asks early on in their child’s development.
It’s also a question that is so difficult to answer because every child develops at a different rate. Everything from teething to first words to first steps varies from kid to kid.
As every doctor will tell you, you should never compare your child’s development to another child, not even a sibling. But human nature forces us to take notes, keep track, look over the fence if you will. We all want the best for our children, and we want to make sure they are on the right path to a happy and healthy childhood.
As we dive deeper into some tools every parent can use to monitor their child’s development, it’s important to illustrate that there is no true definition of normal. As we have previously stated, all children will develop at their own pace and hit the classic milestones (smiling, sitting, crawling, walking, etc ) at different times.
We can monitor and affect a few extremely important areas of development: play, parenting and discipline. Long before any parent should be concerned that their child is not developing appropriately, these goal-posts should all be understood:
Play: The big hallmarks of development here are the progression from self-play to team-play. Children (at their own pace) should gradually evolve from being comfortable and content with playing on their own, to eagerness to play both side by side with others and in cooperation with others.
Parenting: Parenting plays a huge role in a child’s development and behavior early on. Your children are like sponges and their development will be amplified and shaped by their interaction with you. Constant teaching through explanation, instruction and illustration is key to strong development. Reading books, listening to music and playing basic games are all highly important to your child’s early growth.
Discipline: Often times, disconcerting behavior early on can be caused by a lack of discipline. We all struggle with being stern with our kids, but fair, measured and appropriate discipline is imperative in a childs early development. A clear delineation between right and wrong, and understanding that all actions have consequences attached, can go a long way in regulating the volatility in a childs behaviour.
As mentioned, understanding and deciding what is normal development in a child is an impossible question. The best we can do is maximize the positive interaction we have with our kids, keep a vigilant eye on their development and provide them with the environment they need to grow and thrive.