As our children start to grow, this is a question that many of us find ourselves asking, for various reasons. We all want our children to grow up happy and healthy, and want to do our best to make sure that happens.
So, if our child is doing something that seems abnormal, we may find ourselves doing an excessive amount of googling and worrying.
We all want to feel like our children are normal, and have the best chance at life possible. However, sometimes it just feels like things aren't going right with our kids, and we may start to question things about them and about ourselves.
Is the problem with our child, or is it with us? This can be a hard one to figure out, and can leave us scratching our heads or with a sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs.
For a guide to normal childhood behavior by age, you can check out this guide from Very Well Family.
This guide outlines behavior by age groups, and will let you know which milestones children should reach by age. You can also refer to books like, "What to Expect in Your Child's First Year" or other ages and stages parenting books that will outline which milestones should be met by each age group.
Remember with milestones, each age has a range, so if your child is late with a milestone and early with others, they may just not be reaching each skill at the same time.
However, if problems persist and they aren't eating, sleeping, speaking or meeting developmental milestones on time, there may be a problem. In this case it is important to make careful notes of what you think is going on, and to speak up on behalf of your child.
Childhood Mental Health
If your child is beginning to have behavioral problems at home, it is a good idea to talk to your child's teacher or pediatrician. They will have more knowledge of common childhood disorders than we do, and be able to point us a step in the right direction. They will also be able to tell us if what we are experiencing is normal.
According to the CDC,
ADHD, anxiety problems, behavior problems, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children.
When your child is acting in a way that you feel may be abnormal for them, or in general, it is best to try to enlist help. This way, you and your child will both be able to get support with a possible diagnosis.
Your child's teacher or pediatrician may recommend getting an evaluation for your child, so that you will find out what is going on, and if they have any mental health or adjustment issues.
Does my child have a disability?
Additionally, your child may be struggling with a Learning Disability or an Intellectual Disability.
According to Mom Junction,
Learning disability is a neurological condition where children find it difficult to read, write, listen, reason, or understand certain concepts. This does not indicate that they are lazy or unintelligent. It shows that they process information differently.
If your child is very young, you may also be noticing the beginnings of a hearing, vision or speech disability, or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Several of these issues may present themselves with the child acting out, especially if they don't understand what is going on in their environment. If you think your child has any of these types of issues, again, it is best to talk to your doctor. They can then either diagnose and treat your child's issue, or refer you to a specialist who can.
Talking to your doctor as soon as possible about any concerns that you may have will allow you to get your child the treatment they need as soon as possible. This will help to get them back on the path to lifetime success.
You know your child best
Even though there are professionals in your child's life, you know your child best. You spend the most time with them, and will be able to tell if something seems off to you.
If so, make sure that you advocate for your child and their mental and physical health. This can make a huge difference in getting your child the treatment that they need sooner than later.
Being informed is also important. If your child does receive a diagnosis, it is important to learn as much about it as you can, so that you will best be able to help your child to learn and grow in the most normal way possible.
What you can do
Providing assistance to your child is key, so it will stem from being informed, and involved with your child's treatment. Many times, there will be things you will need to do at home to ensure that your child succeeds in school and their other activities.
The more you are involved with your child's care and treatment, the better. It will help your child to feel safe and loved, and to know that you care about them as individuals.
Even if your child doesn't have normal capabilities, there isn't any reason that they can't have as normal of a life as possible, with proper care and attention. By being aware and involved, you can help to ensure that this happens.
If there is something that the school or the doctor tells you that you don't understand, be sure to ask questions. This way you will understand your child's interventions and be as knowledgeable as possible about your child's condition.
Understanding and empathizing with your child is important. Make sure that you take time to ask how they are feeling about things, and that they are happy as well as learning on track.
When you prioritize your relationship with your child, and your child's care, then you are on the right track to helping them live a full and healthy life.
If there are any specific childhood conditions that you have questions about, feel free to let me know in the comments so that I can write about them in the future.