Disclaimer: Writing about Kellen’s development is sometimes a difficult task for me. I have several friends whose children have developmental challenges, and when it comes to a child who is developing faster, it seems like there is a fine line between being able to talk about their development and being labeled as bragging, even when it is not intended as such.
I had Kellen’s preschool parent-teacher conference the other day (scheduled early because we’re going back to CA for more hyperbaric oxygen treatments for my Lyme). It lasted an hour and a half, though we digressed a number of times talking about more general teaching trends rather than just Kellen. Since Kellen was born, we’ve noticed that he has an interesting way of learning. He’s met a lot of his milestones early. Because of that, we’ve expected him to meet other milestones early. Sometimes he does. Sometimes he doesn’t. His development has created a bit of a disconnect between what he can do and what we expect him to do.
I stopped reading developmental books a long time ago because they were no longer helpful in informing us what Kellen should be doing. If I tried to find a list of milestones that matched Kellen’s development instead of his chronological age, I started to worry because while he was advanced in some of the tasks, in others he was more in line with his numerical age. I assumed if he was developmentally able to complete certain tasks, he should also be able to do the others.
It’s easy to forget that Kellen just turned two and a half. His swimming teacher told me, using what I think she thought was a reassuring tone, that he would eventually understand coordinating his arms. I reminded her of his age, and she told me that it was easy to think Kellen was older and that the reminder is good so that she can reign in her expectations of what he should be capable of. His teacher and I had the same conversation. Kellen is only two and a half. He’s still going to have accidents. He is still acquiring language and learning how to regulate his emotions. He can spell his name and recognize letters and understands the concept of quantity (“Mommy, two school buses”). But he doesn’t have a good grasp on color identification (who needs to do that when you can differentiate between a back hoe and a bulldozer). It’s easy to get concerned, as parents or as an educator.
I think it’s important to set challenging expectations that require our children to reach a little bit. But it’s easy, particularly with a developmentally advanced child, to set that bar a little too high, which is frustrating for both the child and the parents.
How do you manage your expectations for your children, wherever they fall on the developmental curve?