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Dear Debi,
My 2-year-old daughter refuses to sing in class. Her 3-year-old cousin used to sing when he was her age and now he’ll go up and sing even if he doesn’t know the words. Why isn’t my daughter developing as quickly as her cousin?
Veronica , El Monte, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Children share age-related characteristics
  • Each child is a unique individual
  • What interests one child may not work with another
Expert Advice
Ann Corwin, Ph. D.
Ann Corwin, Ph. D.
Parenting Consultant
Adults often listen to whatever other children have been through and think their kids need to develop exactly the same way, and that’s simply not true.

While children share age-related characteristics, it’s not chronologically based. There’s an age range for every developmental task we do. While there’s a range of typical development, adults should still look for indications that the child is developing within that range.

Certainly, all kids of the same chronological age are not of the same developmental age. But when a 2 year old looks like another one and they’re not acting like the other child, that’s often when parents “freak out.” We get really hung up on age.

It can be harmful to suggest a child should be walking by a specific age. If you have questions about your child’s development, check with your pediatrician. We don’t want to mess with psychology till you’ve checked the physiology. There are kids that walk at nine months old and kids that walk at 15 months.

There are other developmental signs to look out for. Infants should be crying at birth. By 9 months they should be crawling and by 2 and a half years, infants should be talking. By 3 and a half, toddlers should be doing interactive play, saying things like, “Throw the ball with me.” Before that, children will engage in parallel play -- just playing with the toy in front of them. By the time they’re five years old, they’ll begin social/emotional interactions, meaning, “My feelings are hurt because you didn’t come to my party.”

It’s crucial that both parents and providers recognize there is a range of child development. No one develops exactly the same way. When you’re looking at ages and stages, parents need to distinguish between their child’s behavior and their personality. You should never discipline a child’s personality, only their behavior.

Observation is one of the keys for a child care provider to get to know a child. Spend time with the child and always observe him or her. Time is what establishes relationships. Document the child’s development in your head or on a piece of paper. Establish a routine where everyday the child care provider tells the parent what their child did uniquely that day.

Again, it’s important to accept each child’s uniqueness. The child is trying to establish relationships; that is how they find out about themselves. Kids don’t know how they’re different from someone else unless we talk to them about it. I met a boy recently with an unbelievable vocabulary. I made sure to tell him, “I love your words.” You want to notice and point out the child’s uniqueness so they’ll realize what draws people close to them.

For children with delays or disabilities, you should get an accurate diagnostic facility to find out what specifically you may be dealing with. Make sure to get good referrals for whatever special need your child has. Follow your instinct if you think something’s wrong. Tell the parent, “I think it’s a good idea for you to check with your pediatrician or regional center.”
Child Care provider Comments
Diane Ferguson
Diane Ferguson
Child care provider for 3 years
I don’t force a child to do what they rest of the group is doing. I encourage the children to learn at their own pace. I use the NAEYC ratings scale for the children. Every three months you do a developmental milestone check-up to see if they are on target, ahead of target, or behind target. Every 6 months, I meet with parents to discuss how the child is developing. If I have concerns about the child’s development, I meet with the parents and talk to them about how to help him.
Alma Martinez
Alma Martinez
Child care provider for 10 years
You don’t want to raise children rigidly adhering to the exact month they are supposed to be walking, or year they should be potty trained. Kids develop differently. Some babies sit up earlier than others. It’s their nature – each child is unique. That’s why you can’t compare the children to each other, or to their brothers and sisters.
Elizabeth
Elizabeth
Child care provider for 4 years
Usually, at around 6 months, if a child isn’t rolling over, I would be worried. I would tell the child’s parents that they should have the pediatrician evaluate the child. There are also certain games that you can play to see if a child is hitting their milestones. The idea of object permanence for a baby, for example, is not something they understand. You can hide blocks from them underneath a blanket, if the child doesn’t realize that the blocks are hidden at 8 months or so, there could be a problem.

Games with Boxes Featured Activity:
Games with Boxes
Developmental Stages Featured Video:
Developmental Stages
Topic: Child Development
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Language Development
Social Development
Parents’ Expectations
Ages & Stages: Birth to 12 Months
Ages & Stages: 1 to 2 Years
Resources
First 5 California
Baby Workshop
The California Child Care Healthline
1-800-333-3212
Ages & Stages Questionnaires
Mr. Rogers on Likenesses and Differences
Zero to Three - Healthy Minds
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
Child Trauma Academy
 
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