Saturday, 21 September 2013

Milestones

Prior to having children, I had never really considered the meaning of the word 'milestones' before, but it now seems to be a word that keeps coming up time and time again; it is definitely a word that parents become very familiar with as their baby grows up.


Back when I was a first time mother to Ruby, I used to enjoy looking at the red book that the health visitor and midwives used to chart her weight and various other things including numerous childhood milestones.

Baby groups seem to be a place for competitive parenting, where parents talk about all the milestones that there child is hitting; maybe it was just me, but at the time I felt as if my baby and I were failing, as we were not reaching the milestones of a baby who was either the same age or younger. To this day I still do not like going to baby groups. We would not criticise an adult in this way, so why do we pressure a baby to achieve something by a certain age? Should we not treat them as an individual?

I enjoyed seeing Ruby reach her milestones, and was always pushing her to reach the next one as quickly as she possibly could. I could not wait for her to sit, walk, or even to talk; but then I was a first time mother! I think this is what the vast majority of first time mothers do.

Why is there no individualism nowadays? Why are we so wrapped up in red tape, and obsessed with milestones? Why can't a baby be allowed to be a baby and grow at their own pace, without pressure on them to do things before they are ready to?

For me, things completely changed when Lottie came along; I was still interested in her development and how she was progressing, but I was not in a rush for her to do anything, and I am not actively encouraging her to walk; she pulls herself up and walks holding on to things at present, but there is no push from me for her to walk. My attitude has completely changed as a second time mum, I have learnt a lot since having Ruby. I have come to the conclusion that babies grow up way too quickly, and before you know it, it is time for them to go to school.


Ruby has just started to school and on the first day she was handed some homework, as a parent I was shocked, she has only recently turned four, it seems so young to be giving out homework.  I attempted to help Ruby with her homework, but it didn't go as planned, and Ruby ended up in tears; I made the decision to put the homework to one side. I felt like such a bad parent explaining to her teacher that Ruby had not done the homework and that I was not prepared to push her any further; if I had done this, I fear that Ruby would have been put off going to school.


Milestones may have a place in certain areas, but I really wish people would open their eyes and look at the bigger and wider pictures.


12 comments:

  1. Agree completely hunni and you are not a failure you are looking out for your childs best interests. Don't get me wrong I do sometimes think we can come across wrong as I do talk about my girls achievements but not in a competitive way just in a proud mummy way and would never compare. As you say all children are different and I was horrified when Elle was 9 months old and a speech specialists was saying she should be referred for speech therapy. Now at pre-school she gets congratulated on her diction and understanding and she never did go to speech therapy. Every child is different and I think people need to remember that. Big hugs x

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  2. I think it's completely bonkers that a 4 year old is given homework. They're only just getting used to such a massive change in their lives. I love the red book but completely hated all the competitiveness! Especially when people keep asking "which line is he on"!

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  3. If you don’t like baby groups due to competitive parenting then how are you going to cope with playground politics! On the school playground you will swarmed by parents talking about their childs latest milestones – there is little else to talk about! Whereas you were able to avoid baby groups you certainly wont be able to avoid the school playground! Now instead of talking about when your child said their first word it will be what phonics they know, what numbers they know, what spelling words they have been given, which group they are in for maths etc. The list can go on forever. I have seen a full blown argument in the playground over what colour book band their child was on within reading!

    Previous milestones have all been developmental - beyond your control (crawling, walking etc) and have a wide range of months when it is developmentally acceptable to achieve those milestones. However, now your child has reached school age she will be expected to achieve milestones at the same time as everyone else – otherwise will be deemed as low ability.

    Like it or not your child will have already been assessed for her Early Learning Goals and have been a target at school. Every parents meeting you will be discussing how she is getting on at school against those goals. When she leaves reception she will be working towards her SATS. Your child will be assessed against levels throughout her entire school life.

    By the way – how do you “not actively encourage” a child to walk?! Surely you cant ‘make’ a child walk or not ‘make’ them walk. Isnt it down to their own individual developmental ability? Are you a bad parent if your child doesn’t walk by a certain month? Are you a bad parent if your children doesn’t get their first tooth by the time they are one? Best to stop beating yourself up now about bad parenting otherwise you will hate her entire school education.

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