Is my child on track?

As mums, we all have moments (and maybe days) where we worry about our children, and whether each child is “on track” with their development. This is normal, and part of our role as mums. After all, we are trying to grow these little people into independent, well-functioning adults. That can sometimes feel like an overwhelming responsibility.

But how do you know whether your child is doing the things they should be doing at each of the wonderful ages and stages of childhood?

We live in a time where we can Google anything and find pages and pages of information to answer our questions. While it’s wonderful that we have so much information at our fingertips, it can also be unhelpful when our Google searches leave us feeling more worried and sometimes even scared. Remember that not all information you find on the internet is accurate, or helpful!

As a paediatric Occupational Therapist, I work with parents every day who are concerned about their children. And it is my job to work with them to identify their child’s strengths and work on their weaknesses. More and more I am learning that every child is individual. It is important to strike a balance between accepting their differences and being aware when they have a real difficulty that needs help.

Sometimes children may not be able to do something that their friends can do. This might be because it is hard. They have not learnt it yet or they just are not ready to do it yet. Remember, children change and grow at a rapid rate when they are little. They have a lot of things to learn to do in a year. And there is always a range to what is considered “normal” development. My mother will tell you that as a Speech Pathologist who worked with children she did all the “right” things with us. My brother didn’t talk properly until he was three and I didn’t walk until I was 16 months old. And so far, we have both turned out OK.

What to do if you are worried

If your child is struggling with something or is delayed in their development, trust your instincts, and investigate further if you are worried. There is no harm in going to a Paediatrician for an opinion, or to share your concerns with a therapist or child health nurse. Yes, sometimes this may lead to finding out that your child is behind where they should be. Without knowing, it’s difficult to get the right help and support that they may need. The earlier you identify and address a difficulty, the better the outcome for your child. So, don’t be afraid to ask.

You know your child best and are the best person to monitor how they are going and help them get back on track. But it is also important to remember that there is no ONE track for every child; they all move forward at different rates and we need to journey with them where they are.

What can you do if you are worried about something and wondering whether they are where they should be developmentally? Talk with your mum friends. Watch other children. Read books or reputable information on the internet.  Talk with your child’s daycare or teacher. These can all be helpful.

Thankfully, when we are feeling worried or overwhelmed, it is reassuring to know that we have each other to lean on for support, and to get advice. So, turn to your tribe, and together we can keep ourselves and our beautiful children moving forward.

Catherine Begley

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