From the moment your child is born, everything starts to feel like it defines you as a parent.
“She’s not latching…” turns into, “What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I even breastfeed?”
“He’s 12 months and hasn’t started walking…” turns into, “My friend’s daughter is already walking and she’s only 10 months!”
“He refuses to use the potty…” turns into, “I can’t even get him to pee in the right place!”
When things go right, we might feel proud—maybe. But when things go wrong, we too often feel like we are doing something wrong or are simply not a good enough parent.
The next time those negative thoughts start creeping up, keep these 4 thoughts in mind to prevent them from taking over—
Your child has his own process and timeline.
Your child has his own process and timeline. That means walking, talking, and potty training are all developed at a time that is appropriate for your child and your child is not “broken” ever.
If you are concerned that your child is experiencing frustration by not being able to walk or talk, check in with your child’s pediatrician about what might be helpful for your child.
According to Milestone Moments developed by the CDC, it is important to keep an eye on how your child plays, learns, speaks, and acts. The milestones listed here will let you know what is typical for children at different ages.
The milestones indicate what is typical, but tuning in to your child’s needs and desires for development may be the most effective way to help your child thrive.
If your child is attempting to reach a new milestone and is in need of extra support, find ways to provide the scaffolding your child needs without rushing the learning process.
If you think you need to reach out to your child’s doctor about their development, don’t pin the blame on yourself and try not to put undue pressure on your child to speed up their developmental process.
When my daughter turned one, I was concerned that she was not yet walking. After speaking to her pediatrician, I learned that it was my expectations that were off, not my little one’s development!
I have tried to remind myself again and again that she is doing what she needs for right now. The funny thing is that she actually got excited about walking after trying on a pair of shoes. Now she is constantly practicing her walk and honing her motor skills with every baby step.
Chatting with the doctor can help put things in perspective and take some of the pressure off. Phew!
Your child is her own person.
Your tot’s behaviors and experiences are not always in your control.
I have learned to ask permission from my daughter and offer her choices when getting her dressed. She really has a thing for that black puppy dog t-shirt and dragonfly leggings. She may only be 17 months old, but her sense of fashion seems to be outpacing mine already! ?
Your child's feelings are not always about you.
Parents often feel bad when their child feels sad or angry, but these are a normal emotional expressions in life.
It’s okay for your child to cry or get upset. As parents, we just need to make sure they express themselves in a way that does not hurt them or anyone else—physically or psychologically.
The experts at Zero to Three suggest that strong emotions, and even some forms of aggression, are a normal part of development.
They recommend providing clear, reasonable limits to our children’s behaviors, keeping an eye on their behaviors to note what their emotional triggers may be, and providing them with a good role model and as much patience as we can muster up.
Trying our best to meet these needs means we are doing everything necessary to promote long-term healthy emotional expression.
Of course, we also need to be cognizant of the importance of validating our children’s feelings. Allowing your child to have emotions (and respecting those feelings) is an optimal way to communicate that they are accepted for who they are, and that they do not need to hide what is truly going on deep down.
I find that when I acknowledge my daughter’s sad feelings, she then starts to calm down. By doing this with her as a toddler, my hope is that she will feel open to sharing her feelings with me as a teen.
On the road of parenthood, there will be many unexpected twists and turns.
Embrace the unexpected. The surprises found along a journey are often the most exhilarating part of the adventure. The same notion can be applied to parenthood.
The expectations that I originally had of my child were not only causing stress for myself but placing pressure on my child while rejecting her own spontaneous life experience.
As you learn to appreciate the many twists and turns of parenting, your child will feel more accepted and you will learn to sit back and just enjoy the ride.