Milestones and Standards:: Are We Too Hard On Our Toddlers?

As my son is {way too} quickly approaching two years old, so are his friends. When he was born, I sought out mom groups, mom friends, followed mom bloggers, and reconnected with friends that had kids his age with questions about milestones and what I should be doing to ensure my son met them. Basically, I was terrified and turned to every avenue I could think of to give me advice and hope. 

Milestones and Standards

I remember the first real questions I answered at the pediatrician. “Does he smile when he sees you?” “Does he make eye contact?” “Does he x, y, z?” As a new mom anxiously awaiting the growth chart results, I {again} left terrified that my infant was not hitting all the milestones. “Um…yeah, I think so,” was my answer to a lot of these questions. I answered cautiously because I was afraid I might answer wrongly and steer the doctor away from needed tests. 

I became obsessed with the milestones and standards that my child was supposed to do at each age, as well as with his height and weight. As the year went on and he turned 1, he wasn’t meeting some of the CDC milestones, such as being interested in a book or putting his leg up to be dressed. Needless to say, I stayed awake all night wondering if I had done something wrong. It is easy for everyone to tell you that you didn’t, but it is equally as easy for you to believe that you did. 

Milestones and Standards:: Are We Too Hard On Our Toddlers?

Benchmarks and Blaming Ourselves

One of the most common concerns I have heard from my fellow moms is their child’s delay in speech. My friends asked me if Raymond knows more than 20 words. My immediate thought was…who has the time to count their child’s words? I completely get it though. Working in a field where analytics is life, you have to have a benchmark. I also think that because I am not a medical professional, I don’t understand the entire point of requiring children to speak at a certain age.

I have multiple perspectives on this. We have lots of concerns when it comes to Raymond, and speech is one of them. By the time he was 1, he definitely was not stringing 2-4 words together. He uttered some here and there to let me know what he wanted. This led me to wonder if I was not reading to him enough or maybe I was not speaking to him enough.

I also have  friends and family currently concerned with their toddlers “being behind”. They ask me when Raymond started saying certain words or when he started having cohesive thoughts. They asked for suggestions on what they could do better. Better? I thought. Nothing; you’re great. Let’s be honest here; I think it’s going to be a really long time before he has cohesive thoughts. I don’t think I truly have cohesive thoughts. Also know that we have all been there, one way or another. 

Comparing My Toddler to Yours

Moms have the innate need to always want the best for our children. In my early 20’s, I went through a late rebellious stage and this resulted in a rocky relationship with my mom. It was hard and we were mad at each other a LOT, but I knew in the darkest lowest part of my heart that she wanted the best for me and that was why we butted heads.

It is so hard to see other children doing something and wondering why mine is not. I am completely guilty of this. I bought children’s books in Vietnamese {I do not even read in Vietnamese} and flashcards in Spanish. When someone asked me about which sensory toys he had, I freaked out secretly because HE DIDN’T HAVE ANY! I frantically googled what these were and bought a bunch. Then I forced him to play with them. 

Do we want so badly for our children to start out successful that sometime we are too hard on them? Surely, I’m not the only one here?

My Only Advice:: Trust Yourself

I can’t tell you how many nights I spent crying because my son didn’t get enough of a nap, didn’t eat enough vegetables, or watched too much TV. Screen time is always such a hot topic with so many rules, I think. The majority of my friends’ questions about their parenting is if they allow their children to watch too much. I often question if I am allowing my son to be dependent on Johnny eating sugar while we eat at a restaurant. I must ask though…is it reasonable to expect a toddler to sit still for almost two hours while we talk in front of food they probably don’t even care about?

My only advice {that I should follow daily} is to trust your motherly instincts. Whether they give you sentences or not, or if they watch TV after school or not, trust that you know what is acceptable. Trust that you know what is best and don’t let anyone waver that thought. School will teach them how to read, how to write, and all the other how to’s, but you will teach them how to love, how to care, and how to appreciate who they are. 

Milestones and Standards:: Are We Too Hard On Our Toddlers?


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Cindy L. was raised in Houston, Texas since she was 3 years old. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in communications from The University of Houston, she went into the commercial real estate industry and has been happily analyzing market trends since. Cindy and her husband reside in northwest Houston with their son, Raymond IV {February 2018}. They enjoy browsing through farmers/artisan markets looking for delicious salsas, hand poured soy candles, and other unique trinkets. They also regularly stroll through the various beautiful parks that Houston has to offer. Cindy relaxes at night by submerging into a fantasy/sci-fi novel, knitting hats, crocheting tiny animals, and {most recently} learning how to sew her son’s clothes. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and wannabe chef. Her goals going forward are to write often and take more vacations with her family. You can follow Cindy on Instagram :: tindycruong and read about her trying to navigate through life on her blog Life So Flowery.

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