Why understanding Child Development Is Vital In Parenthood
Since the day you brought your little bundle of joy home from the hospital you’ve been trying to figure out how to sustain the tiny human’s life.
There is so much to know and not always a lot of people there to provide you with that info. Which is funny, because when you were pregnant your world was flooded with information about the growing baby all snug in your womb. But now it’s up to you dear mama, to learn all you can about your growing child.
But why learn about child development? You’re not a pediatrician or a child therapist. You have family, friends, and your good ol’ maternal instincts to help guide the way.
Today researchers are finding more and more evidence of ways in which parental behavior can both help and harm your child. Having a clear knowledge of what is helpful and harmful to your child empowers you to be a better mama to that precious little one.
Understanding Builds Empathy
Babies and children are challenging little creatures. Their behavior is weird, and you often find yourself wondering what the heck you did wrong.
But guess what? Chances are it’s simply a development thing.
Children go through an incredible amount of changes before reaching adulthood. Your child’s brain and body are developing at an incredible pace. When you are informed of these developments and understand the connection to their behavior, you start seeing your child in a new way.
In my young daughter’s life, I’ve already run into a few times in which I was frustrated with her. Whether it was nonstop fussiness from teething, a particularly difficult wonder week leap, or endless days of reflux due to the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) being underdeveloped in babies.
With knowledge of why she was behaving a certain way, I was able to understand that she can’t help herself and doesn’t deserve my frustration. She simply needs her mama to give her snuggles and get her through this rough time.
As The Old Saying Goes, Knowledge Is Power
When you have a clearer understanding of the development of your child, why they do the things they do, you can then learn how to best walk with and guide them.
Learn what teaching and communication methods work best. Learn how to play with your child in a way that helps them learn more richly. Equip yourself with the knowledge of how to best handle what the munchkins throw at you.
You, mama, become empowered. You know what’s going on and learn how best to deal with it.
Empowerment also comes in handy to combat all those who might make you feel like you’re doing it wrong. More-so it also helps to fight that voice in your head that tends to fill your head with doubts… because we don’t need that voice. That voice sucks.
Opens opportunities to catch abnormal development
With a good understanding of developmental milestones and what the norm might look like, it may be easier to catch when something isn’t right.
Most moms have their Spidey senses to let them know something is off with their little one. If your baby is sick, you usually know it well before the first symptom shows up. But some developmental delays and other issues may not be as identifiable.
Of course, your child’s doctor would catch these issues… but it sure doesn’t hurt to go in informed as an advocate for your child’s health. Especially if you suspect something isn’t quite right.
Of course, please don’t use this as a pass to self-diagnose! Always seek your doctor’s advice when it comes to the health of your little one.
Helps you develop appropriate age expectations
I’ve been debating how to address this one. I don’t necessarily want to sound judgmental, but I do think a lot of parenting practices need to be called out as potentially harmful due to a lack of understanding of what is developmentally age appropriate.
There are so many varying ideas of how to deal with all the aspects of raising a child. Some have been passed down through generations. Others are best practices based on scholars and experts… some with an outdated foundation in post-Victorian medicine. Some parents just wing it and do their best with the little information they have.
Better parenting practices are emerging all the time due to the continuing research in these areas. Of course, research isn’t always perfect, and it’s important to maintain a well-rounded view of all the information available to parents.
As a parent though, having a sound understanding of child development helps us to know what our babies and children are and are not capable of. We adults have the tendency to see through our adult lens. We create expectations or assign intentions to behaviors of which they are simply incapable. And that’s just not fair to the little munchkins.
Understanding the developmental abilities and limitations of your child helps to shape the ways in we react and interact with them. It’s not always about us. And they truly do need us to navigate and understand this world. It’s a selfless act on our part, but when we meet them where they are at, it truly makes their lives that much better.
I’ve only highlighted a few of the points of why understanding child development as a mom is so significant. Ultimately it makes us better parents. And isn’t that what we ultimately want… to be the best us, so they grow to be the best them?
So keep learning mama!
- “Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development – Protective and Promotive Factors”
Center for the Study of Social Policy
- “The Role of Parents in Children’s Psychological Development”
by Jerome Kagen
- “Parenting Impacts Brain Development”
Bringing Up Great Kids
- “15 Ways Parents Can Harm Their Babies”
- “Why Common Discipline Methods Don’t Work (And What To Do Instead)”
by Sarah Ockwell-Smith