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Little boy playing with wooden numbers at nursery

Child Development: Alter Your Expectations

As a parent, I often remind myself not to compare my daughter to other children. Everyone develops at different times and each journey is unique. My toddler is not as physically adventurous as some of her younger friends. While they are scaling the sides of the couch and jumping off chairs, she stands on the small step at the threshold of our door and asks for my hand. I’ve also noticed that watching other kids do things often motivates her to be a little braver. She has ventured onto the wooden playground boat and tried the slide, just because she saw her best friend having fun.

I know that she is healthy, and I have no concerns about her motor skills development, so I remind myself that it’s no big deal if she doesn’t know how to climb ladders and shimmy down a set of stairs just yet. But as I am trying not to pressure her to achieve physical milestones, I recently realized—I may be underestimating her abilities in other areas.

While I have been so focused on not pushing her and allowing her to develop at her own pace, I think I may have convinced myself that she is too young to understand other things. Even though she is not a daredevil, she seems to be going through a rapid stage of language development right now.

My daughter loves books. She is always pretending to read and pointing at words. Recently, my mother has been watching her during the day, and I have been amazed at how much she has learned. Things that I never would have imagined my 19-month-old could master. She is actually able to point to different letters and name a corresponding word. “C…cat, M…mom, D….dad.” And this is all because my mom spent a few sessions with her going over letters and words.

Not to be outdone, my father has been working on turning my daughter into a card shark. He taught her how to match the numbers and images (and identify the important ones—she can now pick out the aces and face cards and name them correctly most of the time). Maybe she will be a professional poker player someday.

Watching her with my parents has highlighted how true it is that toddlers are little sponges, soaking up everything you say and do. It has also taught me that you can make just about any activity a teaching moment if you try. I will continue to be mindful about comparing her to others and having expectations for her development, but I’m no longer going to assume a concept or task is out of her reach. I’m going to embrace a mindset of “Let’s try it, and see…”

If you have questions about your child’s development, contact your pediatrician.

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About Danielle Vigueria

About Danielle  Vigueria Danielle Vigueria is a new mom, step-mom, wife, and freelance writer. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Virginia and a Master of Professional Studies in publishing from George Washington University. She recently traded her beach life in coastal Virginia for the mountains of Idaho. When she isn’t writing, Danielle relaxes by hanging out with her family, reading lots of YA fiction, and watching the deer wander in her backyard.