Today I had a conversation with a mom who is worried about her son. He’s the same age as Jed, and so naturally she asked me what Jed’s “doing.”
She asked if he knows his ABCs. If he’s counting. If he’s potty-trained. If he’s talking correctly – you know, all the “bench-marks.”
He’s not even THREE.
She asked this out of honest concern, because she has been told by various people that her little boy is “behind” developmentally. Instinctually, she thinks he’s fine and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him, but other people are trying to convince her otherwise.
I repeat, he’s not even THREE.
Okay, so here I will begin my rant:
Kids will start all of these things when they are ready. If a child’s own parent doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with him, then who are the doctors, the daycare workers, the nannies, the teachers, the “professionals” to say that there is? Isn’t the parent is the real expert when it comes to their child?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not here to bash anyone. Of course, sometimes professionals need to be consulted. But what I’m saying is that, generally, we seem to be trying to make our kids “keep up” with completely different kids on some imaginary scoreboard.
Sadly, our society steals childhoods away. To “stay on task,” to “keep up,” our children are consistently forced to do things they aren’t ready for – and to learn things they don’t even need to know yet.
And this poor mom came to me, worried to death because her son isn’t saying the “right” words yet. She’s in tears because her child, who has only been on the earth for 33 months, wants to run around and play and explore instead of sit still and learn about colors and letters from the pages of a workbook.
I just want to reiterate what I think we all know deep down inside: all children develop at their own pace! At different levels! At different ages!
Just because a six year old isn’t “reading” yet doesn’t mean he’s “slow” or developmentally challenged. It just means that it hasn’t clicked yet! And just because a 3-year-old doesn’t know his ABCs doesn’t mean he won’t possibly ever make it into a good college.
Please, don’t rush him. Don’t label him. Don’t push him. He’ll do it when he’s good and ready, and it will come easily… without tears. Arrggh.
Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
We can’t pigeonhole our children and expect them to thrive. We can’t rush them into learning things they don’t even want to know. And we certainly can’t count on other people to tell us what’s “normal” when it comes to our kids. What’s normal for some is most definitely NOT normal for others.
So don’t worry, moms. Don’t let it bother you. Your kids are precious. They are special, and they are yours. Don’t feel pressured by what all of the other kids are doing – just focus on what your kids are doing. And enjoy it!
So… what is Jed doing? I’ll tell you.
He’s digging in the dirt. He’s singing songs he made up himself. He’s climbing, throwing balls, catching bugs, playing with his sisters, riding his tricycle, peeing in his diaper (and sometimes on the floor), making countless messes and asking endless questions.
If your son is doing more than that, great. If he’s doing less than that, that’s great too.
Jed’s just busy being a little boy, and in my experienced opinion as a professional mom –