Is your child hitting all their milestones on time—and so what if they aren’t? What would that mean? As a parent, worrying about developmental milestones can make you a little nuts, because it’s only natural that kids all develop at different rates and it’s hard not to worry. Yet it’s still important to keep an eye on your child’s development, and work with your pediatrician or therapists if there are concerns.
This is why we’re happy to share some tips from a recent Facebook Live with Dr. Sara and Dr. Eva, supported by Music Together. Read on to see how a pediatrician and child psychologist handled some tricky questions from parents.
My two-year-old son is hardly talking. He’s in speech therapy and understands words well. He’s very smart and advanced in other ways, but he won’t speak. He is the youngest, so his sisters do a lot for him. What can we do?
Dr. Sara: You’re doing the right things. He’s a late talker, and you’ve got him in speech therapy. You have some worries about how older kids are doing things for him. So what else can you do? As moms, you wonder what else you could be doing. So how can we give ourselves some more positive self-talk?
Dr. Eva: I think she’s doing everything she can when it comes to him talking, and there’s a good relationship developing between the toddler and his sisters. So it’s more about figuring out what he’s comfortable with, and what Mom is comfortable with. Maybe it means doing fewer things for him, or becoming comfortable doing more for him so she doesn’t feel guilty.
I have a 3-year-old who is potty training, but doesn’t seem to want to go anymore! He also has his own ideas about where he wants to sleep and is coming into our bed at night. We have a new 4-month old baby.
Dr. Sara: This is not a developmental issue. This is prime time 3-year-old behavior.
Dr. Eva: Yes! A lot of changes are happening in the child’s life. He has a 4-month-old sibling, and I have some questions about that. Where is the 4-month-old sleeping? Maybe the 3-year-old is seeing the sibling sleep in Mom and Dad’s room and wondering why he has to sleep somewhere else. I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on this, or put too much attention on these issues. We don’t really know enough here, but it may be that the child is reacting to the new baby and just needs to adjust.
How can I identify developmental milestone red flags?
Dr. Eva: The most common questions we hear when it comes to red flags are on autism spectrum disorder. The most common sensory issues parents ask about are the tactile ones. Parents will say, “He hates wearing pants or long-sleeved shirts,” or, “He hugs really strongly or runs around all over the place. Maybe he has ADHD,” or, “The other kids won’t play with her and she’s so sensitive to sound.” When we see these extremes, with a child who needs constant stimulation or is high-strung, we want to look for a possible cause. However, a lot of times parents don’t want to hear a diagnosis because it’s upsetting. I tell them that the diagnosis isn’t what’s important. What is important are the therapies that come with it to allow the child to flourish.
How can we deal with temper tantrums?
Dr. Eva: First, a tantrum is not a reflection of your parenting ability. It’s important to understand that. It’s not about you. If you can take a moment to reflect on what’s going on with your child or why you’re having trouble with it, you can offer better solutions, like letting the tantrum wind down on its own or understanding if there’s another cause to it, like hunger or sleepiness.
Are there any books you can recommend on how to best learn to communicate with your baby?
Dr. Eva: Yes! The RIE method is what comes to mind. This stands for Resources for Infant Educators. You don’t have to use all of their tips, but the method does work. It’s really about including your baby in what you’re doing and painting a picture for them about what’s happening. So you would say things like, “I’m putting you down for a nap now,” or “We’re going to eat now.” This will help them understand what’s happening and give them words for it.