Developmental Milestones: How To Stop Stressing And Use Your Child’s Interests To Your Advantage.

This is why I stopped chasing milestones and the exact strategy I used to do it! 

Guidance not tick sheet

Now I’m not saying we don’t need to be aware of milestones, because we do. 

They are a guide that helps us to know where are child is at and if they need any extra support, and of course if you have any concerns contact the relevant health professional so they can offer you additional support.

But they are just a guideline, they are not a tick sheet and children defiantly don’t follow them in order.

My story

Ok, My journey into motherhood wasn’t an easy one. I mean who’s is but at the time I felt like we were crashing into more hurdles than we were jumping over. 

Ayla was born with a cleft palate which meant that she needed a feeding tube and a special bottle. It also meant that her speech would be impacted even after her palate repair operation. 

She then went on to have genetic testing, where we found out she had a partial deletion to a chromosome. No one on the database had the same deletion meaning they just didn’t know what impact it would have, she could have additional needs or she might not. 

As Ayla got older I would chase milestones, as soon as we hit one I would be looking at the next. Almost to tick them off, and if she wasn’t getting it I would find myself obsessing over what I could do to get her there, and when she wasn’t interested in my activities I just felt deflated.

My mental health had definitely taken a hit but something happened which changed my view entirely.

The Day Everything Changed

 Ayla had had her palate repair, we were in a café with my sister in law, my niece and nephew and Ayla sucked through a straw!

in that moment I realised that I didn’t need to chase the milestones. 

I was so so so happy when Ayla sucked through that straw, why? Because that’s something she just couldn’t do before her repair. At the end of the day does it matter if your child achieves a milestone before another child? 

When did it become a race? Maybe it was just in my head but it’s something I see a lot in parenting groups and it honestly breaks my heart.

When we live in the moment and celebrate our children’s milestones at their own pace they learn that we are right there by their side, to celebrate them for who they are, that we are proud of them whenever they master a new skill no matter when. 

As soon as I stopped chasing and I implemented the strategy below Ayla and my connection grew, I had so much more confidence in what I was doing because Ayla actually engaged with my activities and I stopped stressing. 

My golden rule

If it’s hard they are not ready (or not interested)

What I mean by this is if they are just not getting it, if you are getting stressed and they are gaining nothing positive from the situation they just are not ready. Maybe you can take a step back and look at what the step before is or maybe it just needs time. Whatever the reason is the key when they are ready it will be easy. 

Let me tell you about our potty training journey, because thats how I found this rule. We hit lockdown and I decided it was the perfect opportunity to potty train Ayla, I explained to Ayla how it worked and we pretended her baby was doing a wee and then Ayla sat on the potty. She sat on it for a little while and got off…. no wee wee’s which was fine. But then she did a wee…. while standing next to the potty… having just stood up. 

And that’s how our morning went! I was stressed, Ayla was upset and we were gaining absolutely nothing positive from the experience. So I stopped and we didn’t even talk about the potty again until about a month later. We managed to catch a lucky wee in the potty when she was swimming around in the paddling pool, the following day I didn’t put her nappy on, I explained again that we were going to do our wee wees on the potty and you know what? She nailed it! No accidents, every single wee was in the potty and I didn’t even have to ask her by the end of the day. Which is absolutely amazing. 

What was different? She was just ready. 

The strategy

Children often focus on one area of development at a time. So where Ayla might be really into numbers and counting your child may be fully focused on letters and stories. 

By following their interests you are going to gain more ground and capture their attention by creating opportunities around that rather than focusing on getting them to count because another mum on a facebook group has said that her 6 month old can count to 100! (I highly doubt that’s ever happened but you know the posts I’m talking about!)

Children are hard wired to learn, and just like us they learn more effectively when they are actually interested in what we are teaching them. So rather than chasing the next milestone take a step back and watch what they are doing, observe what they are interested in. Are they fully focused on pretend play, and what are they role playing? Are they seeing how high they can build a tower? What is it that they are truly interested in when they haven’t got our guidance? 

Once you know what they are interested in, know where they are at. How can you step that up? What activity or invitation to play can you create they supports them to extend their learning? Because when children are ready they will push themselves to the very edge of their comfort zone within their play so that they can learn that little bit more.

Key Take Aways

The key points to take away and things you can do from now or whenever you are ready.

  • If it’s hard. They are not ready.
  • Observe your child so you know their interests
  • Think about how you can extend that interest and create an invitation to play to support that.
  • Stop chasing the milestones, let them play, Create memories together and celebrate them small achievements.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below if you found the information above useful!! 

Happy Playing – Emily

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