Every child grows differently, and it’s so easy to worry about their growth. Here’s why you shouldn’t stress about your child’s developmental milestones.
The news of our three-year-old’s weight gain had already sent me worrying like crazy. Now his pediatrician also sent us a questionnaire about his development. “Does she give this to all her patients, or was there a reason she feels we need to complete this?” I asked my husband, who was the one who had taken our son to his appointment.
The ‘X’ dilemma
“He couldn’t draw an ‘X’ when she asked him to. So now she wants us to fill out this questionnaire to check that he’s on track,” he responded.
“Just because he couldn’t draw an ‘X’?!” I normally rave and rant about his pediatrician for the same reason. She’s proactive about checking for signs and detecting any problems as early as possible.
I’m glad my son has a doctor who advocates for early intervention—I’d rather be safe than sorry.
But this does not do well for my worry wart ways.
The last time I worried was when she suggested we contact early intervention for speech delay.
He hadn’t said a single word at 18 months. And all the worry and fuss proved useless and even detrimental to his progress. In time, he learned to speak, especially as I approached the task with calm, not worry.
The problem with stressing about developmental milestones
And now this questionnaire—which felt more like a test (“Will he pass?”). I had to channel my inner calm and be proactive and encouraging before stressing out. After all, I didn’t even know if I had a reason to stress out—who knew drawing an X was such a big deal?
When I had asked my son to draw an X that same day and showed him just how to do so, he could already sense that something was up. (Kids are so good at seeing through us!)
His reaction? He refused to draw the X. I wasn’t surprised. He figured out this mysterious X had something to do with what the doctor was asking him about earlier. So instead, I took the best action I could have done.
I filed the questionnaire away, and planned to fill it out one week later.
I didn’t even want to look at the questions to rile me up even more. And I didn’t want my son to worry about Xs or anything else for that matter. So it sat in our bookcase until I was ready to flip through it.
When I finally pulled the questionnaire from the bookcase and started answering the questions, it turned out that my son could do practically everything it asked.
Some questions I could answer easily. (Can he walk up the stairs with one foot on each step? Yes.)
Some I wasn’t sure about and had to double check. (After you line up a set of four blocks, does he copy you and set up the same four blocks? Yes.).
And others he had never done but was able to once we actually gave him the opportunity. (Can he string beads or dried pasta through string? Can he cut paper using child-safe scissors? Yes and yes.)
He was able to meet other milestones the questionnaire called for.
We haven’t heard from the pediatrician yet, but I’m sure my son “passes” with flying colors. I understand and appreciate the questionnaire and his pediatrician’s suggestion to fill it out. If there is a problem, knowing is more helpful than ignoring it. But for my worry wart ways, questions about my son’s development has me imagining the worst case scenarios.
This story would be quite different if the results weren’t so positive. I’m sure I’d be flooded with more emotions, but I’d like to think that I would talk myself down and take it a step at a time. And I’d do whatever it takes to help my son, especially being the calm and solid rock he needs his parents to be.
I’ve gotten a better handle about stress and worry. I recognize potential problems as disconcerting but something that’s best approached proactively and calmly. No one wants to hear anything could be wrong with their child. But these early check ups do just that—check that everything is in order, which it probably is.
I’ve learned not to stress about my child’s developmental milestones. Every person grows differently and not always by the book.
The questionnaire ironically didn’t ask about the dreaded “X.” But even if it did, I had nothing to worry about.
A few days ago, my son was drawing and I casually mentioned, “How about an ‘X’? Can you draw an ‘X’?” to which he drew two small but clearly legible diagonal lines intersecting in the middle.
Get more tips about developmental milestones:
- 4 Steps for Moms to Stop Worrying
- Speech Delay and the Last Time I Worried
- First Time Moms: Follow These Practical Rules (and Avoid Mistakes Others Have Made)
- Parenting: The Never-Ending Worry
Tell me in the comments: What developmental milestones have you worried about with your child?
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