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Appreciating Developmental Milestones
did your child learn to sit on their own, or walk, or talk, or potty
accomplishments are known as developmental milestones. Developmental
milestones refer to abilities we expect children to reach within certain
age ranges. Researchers have studied developmental milestones. As a
result, the age ranges that most children accomplish these milestones are
well known. If a child reaches a milestone at a younger age range than
most, we say that child is ahead or bright or gifted. If a child reaches a
milestone at an age range older than most, we say that child is behind or
delayed. Different ages present different milestones. For example, a child
of about two usually has a vocabulary of several dozens words; a child of
three to four years of age is generally toilet trained for both bladder
milestones continue into the school years and beyond. For example, a child
in grade one usually knows the alphabet and is able to read simple
sentences, whereas moving out of the parental home or going to university
or work is a developmental milestone for a teen or young adult. In
preschool or school, comparing children to age appropriate developmental
milestones can help identify those children who may benefit from special
attention. The child who is ahead may benefit from special classes to make
the most of their abilities and thus avoid boredom. On the other hand a
child who is delayed may benefit from extra attention to cope with work
that is beyond their ability and frustrating. Identifying and helping the
child who is ahead or behind improves their school experience and feelings
of self-worth. This in turn reduces the risk of behaviour or emotional
problems later on.
are many things that can influence a child reaching developmental
milestones within expected age ranges. They include:
Prenatal health of the mother and childís birth experience
Appropriate nutrition and daily care
who are informed as to normal developmental milestones can be better
equipped to support their childís development with age-appropriate
expectations. Further, if their child is not meeting the expected
milestones, they can be in a better position to seek help and make use of
you suspect your child is ahead or behind other children in reaching
developmental milestones, consult your physician. Your physician can
determine if there is cause for concern and can refer your child for
further assessment. An assessment can determine if there is an important
difference, the source of any difference and provide recommendations to
address the difference.
identification of significant developmental differences is best,
particularly before or as a child enters school.
School expectations and programs are generally geared towards the average
child so early identification helps children to obtain a more positive
entry to school by putting in place strategies to better meet their needs.
you believe your child is astray of normal developmental milestones,
donít be afraid. Seek help and use the advice provided to improve your
childís situation. Better starts make for better endings.
(For a good resource on specific developmental milestones, check out the Kids Growth website.)
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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