Our blog exists to help parents of babies and young kids deal with concerns related to child development and behavior. We’ll come out with a new post once a week on topics including normal development, behavior, positive discipline, special needs children, and practical things that parents can do in the first five years of life to help their kids grow up to be happier and more successful.
#1 – Empower parents with an understanding of child development and how it affects everyday parenting
Many parenting problems come from expecting a child to do something that is not appropriate for his developmental level. Are you frustrated because your one year old keeps touching the vase that you told him is off-limits? Your two year old can’t regulate her emotions in the middle of a tantrum? Your three-year-old doesn’t change what he is doing even when you keep telling him to “behave”? Or your four-year-old refuses when you try to make him sit at a desk to read a book, write the letters of the alphabet, or complete some worksheets?
We’ll have articles on normal child development and what to expect at different ages. We’ll also talk about what this means for your everyday life as a parent with a child that age.
At the same time, we’ll point out when a behavior or when the lack of a skill is no longer normal, and when you would need to tell your pediatrician about it.
#2 – Provide easy to understand guides based on research and evidence on child development
There is so much information on the internet that it can end up getting confusing. Our guiding principle is – what does the research say? It is very easy to give advice and how to’s in parenting, but how do we know what works? If you’ve been a parent for any amount of time, you know this firsthand. You get opposite opinions from your relatives, your next-door neighbor, and each of the moms in your mom group. If you search on the internet, there are also experts saying opposite things. One will say, let your baby cry it out. Another will say you need to respond to your baby’s cries. They all sound logical and convincing. What’s a confused parent to do?
We hope to help you sort out all the conflicting and confusing advice. Everything we put on this site is the product of our combined three decades of experience in working with children in our profession. We also continually review the latest scientific studies, evaluate the evidence, and present it in a way that is easy to understand. We then take all of this and combine it with our own experience as parents too. We’re there in the parenting trenches with you, while bringing in scientific knowledge and professional experiences to help you too.
At the same time, you don’t have to take our word for it. We also hope to give you a system that you can use to evaluate for yourself the things you hear from others, or what you see on the internet. So that when you encounter any claim on a website (potty train in a weekend! teach your baby to read!), you’ll know the steps you can take to evaluate what they say.
#3 – Simplify parenting life
Mom life is all about juggling. Kids’ schedules. Housework. Quality time with dad. Time together as a family. Professional work. Cooking meals. Some even do volunteer work, community work, or help take care of aging parents or other relatives. At any one time, moms have maybe 87 things on their to-do list.
At any one time, some of those 87 things might look like this: Check Pinterest boards for kids’ activities. Declutter the house. Do some arts and crafts. Oh wait, I need to gather materials for arts and crafts. Decorate baby’s room in neutral colors. Research and buy a homeschooling curriculum for my three-year-old. Print out worksheets for my four-year-old. Fix toddler’s playroom. Get rid of toys that are the “wrong” toys. Like that colorful toy that’s made of plastic. Or that book with hand-drawn, and not “real” pictures of animals. Wait, how do I do that without offending the aunt who gave them? Oh, why am I worried about offending when it’s my kids’ welfare at stake? I’m such a bad mom.
What if we told you that you don’t need to do any of this? If you are doing all of these and rocking it, good for you! In no way do we diminish the value of what you do. But what about non-supermoms (dev peds author included!) who simply can’t do all of these and stay sane at the same time.
We’ll help you decide which of the things on your to-do list, and which of the things that the internet says you should do, are actually important. As always, we will base this on what is developmentally appropriate, and what research and the evidence shows. If you look at the research, many of the things that moms are stressed about are actually not based on the evidence.
We’ll give you a couple right now: There is no research showing that kids who play with wooden toys turn out better than kids who play with plastic toys. Or kids who just use ordinary – safe! – household objects as toys. Or even kids who don’t have toys and make do with cardboard boxes. It’s not the toys, but the interaction with parents. Also, many of the recommended arts and crafts for infants and toddlers that you find on the internet are not actually developmentally appropriate at that age. They may not yet have the fine motor skills to accomplish those tasks. Worse, some involve materials that are choking hazards. Watch out for our coming posts on topics like these!
Our goal is to help you identify what are these non-essential things that are stressing you out, so that you have the time and energy to focus on the things that matter. Like creating connections. Making time for meaningful interactions. Doing self-care activities that nourish and strengthen you.
#4 – Advocate for special needs children
Our professional lives are spent working with children with special needs and their families. If you are the parent of a special needs child, we will have articles as well as links to articles that will help you. We understand the devastation that a diagnosis of a developmental disorder can bring to a family. The confusion on what to do next. It is our hope that we will develop and help you discover materials that can guide you as you seek the best care, therapy and educational options for your child. It is also our hope that, devastating though the diagnosis may be, you will be able to appreciate and celebrate your child for who he is.
If you are a parent of neurotypical children (those without special needs), we hope that we can help you understand and be accepting of all children, whether or not they need special interventions. We want to send the message that they are children first and foremost, and their diagnosis is only secondary, and not their identity.
In our clinics, it has happened more often than we would have liked that a mom comes in crying. Her child is being ostracized – not by her classmates, but by other parents. The parents tell their kids not to play with so and so because she has (insert here autism, ADHD, or any developmental disorder). They are worried about how playing with a “child like that” will harm their children. Some go as far as to complain to the school, “Why is your school accepting kids like that?”
We’ll say it right now – each child is unique. Each child has individual differences and individual needs. Some of these differences and needs are just more visible than others. If you allow your child to be with different kids – whether or not they have a developmental diagnosis – your child will learn social skills and empathy too. These are two of the essential skills that successful people must have. So no, playing with a “child like that” will not harm your child. It will make her a better person. If we as parents all model acceptance and empathy, cliche as it may sound, it will truly make this world a better place.
#5 – Help parents enjoy the journey through the early childhood years
In the end, with these first four goals, we hope to help you enjoy your parenting journey. What are the things that rob you of enjoyment? If you think about it, it’s worrying about many things that may not necessarily be important. For example, instead of being happy with the time you are spending with your child, you’re wondering if you should already be teaching him the alphabet. You’re wondering if it’s ok to just let her bang on some pots and pans while you work, or if you should be preparing some nice arts and crafts like your friends are posting on Instagram.
Or if you are the parent of a special needs child, you might think, “How can I enjoy parenting when my child has (Down syndrome/cerebral palsy/autism/any developmental disorder)?” We are telling you that you can, and the majority of the families we work with are able to do this. You don’t have to be happy about the disorder. But you can be happy about spending time with your child and getting to know her. Discovering her uniqueness and celebrating each skill and milestone. You also don’t have to learn to be happy about it overnight. It is a process, but we know you will get there. We will help you get there.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you will be happy all the time. Parenting life has ups and downs. We also have our grouchy days, the days that everything just seems to go wrong. We’re here to tell you that having these off days does not make you a bad parent. It does not mean that you are not a happy parent, or that you don’t love your child as much.
That said, if you are suffering from depression, please get professional help. Depression is not a matter of willpower or positive thinking. It is a medical disorder, just like asthma or diabetes. You wouldn’t tell a diabetic to will his blood sugar down, right? (Although there are some on the internet who would say that!) So please seek a consultation.
According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the single most important factor in developing resilience in children, and success towards positive outcomes, is the presence of a loving, supportive caregiver. If you are enjoying the early childhood years, you will be better able to help your child towards success.
The first five years in a child’s life are the critical period for brain development. This is when the brain cells and connections are being formed. They are also a time filled with wonder and joy, with amazement as your child shows his personality and develops each new skill. There may be tantrums, messes, frustrations and lots of tears too (both from kids and adults in the household!). Embrace all of it. Embrace the journey that is early childhood parenting. We are your village, your tribe, your resource to help you through this. Read our blog articles and sign up for our mailing list. It’s great to have you in our village!