If you are a mother, chances are you have heard advice against comparing your child to his or her peers. For a lot of moms, myself included, it can be quite difficult to heed this advice. Of course we know our children are unique individuals and won’t likely meet every milestone as suggested to us by countless professionals. It’s okay, and even expected of us, to be curious and interested in what our child’s peers are doing and learning.
However, when your child isn’t “normal” (to which one will ask, “what is normal?”) you may find yourself comparing your little one to their peers more frequently than your mom counterparts.
Comparing Your Child To Their Peers
Usually it’s with your firstborn that you obsess over these textbook milestones – rolling over, walking, saying their first word, and even finding their feet are all jotted down in baby books and journals, all as you anxiously anticipate the next one. I was pretty relaxed over my first child, Liam’s, milestones … perhaps it was the sleep deprivation or constant clicking of my camera that kept me preoccupied! My second child, on the other hand, would prove to be quite different.
Evelyn, my 22-month-old daughter, was born with mild-moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Basically, she has a hard time hearing certain sounds at certain frequencies, but thanks to amazing modern technology, her hearing aids are able to amplify these sounds. She will never be able to hear quite like her normal hearing peers but she is expected to develop speech and language skills just the same. In fact, with the help of weekly sessions with her hearing impaired teacher and speech therapist she has thrived and is making wonderful progress.
As mothers we may need to remind ourselves from time to time that every child is different and will develop at his or her own pace, regardless of whether or not they have a disability. It can sometimes be difficult not to get caught up in what your child “should” be doing at certain ages. You’ll get caught up in comparing your child and it happens. However, it’s more important that we spend this time encouraging our children to learn, explore, and play both independently and with their peers. With that will come surpassing milestones and, more importantly, confident children and positive moms who are there to cheer them on.
Because of Evelyn’s hearing loss and slight speech delay (and oh yeah, because I’m a mommy!) I worry. I have to admit that I am comparing my daughter to her peers a lot more than I have ever compared my son to his. I am more aware of what average children her age are capable of and will often find myself thinking, “Well gee, Evelyn can’t string two words together like that. Should she be able to by now?” or even “Wow, Evelyn isn’t as social as that little girl. Will she fit in when the time comes for school?” When Evelyn turned one and only had one consistent word in her vocabulary while seemingly all of her peers had a handful, I worried and had to seek advice and positive words from her hearing impaired teacher.
Now that she is nearing age two I find myself having similar worries about her vocabulary but most of them are fleeting before I tell myself, “Hey, it’s okay.” and put my focus back on my little spitfire’s many accomplishments.
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