We have received so many questions on the same concerns from parents over the past week, from temper tantrums to children just refusing to get dressed. Luckily, Laura is here to shed a little bit of light and hopefully help you make life that tiny bit easier. Don’t forget, you are not alone in this!
Laura is a lecturer in Educational Psychology & Developmental Psychology at University of Limerick, School of Education. She is a Chartered Child and Educational Psychologist since 2006 accredited with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and she supports the needs of all children and also those children with Special Educational Needs. Laura has over fifteen years experience working with children and adults with severe and complex needs.
For further information, visit Lauras website lrpsychologyservices.com
“What milestones should my child be hitting?”
Milestones in child development are what most child do by a certain age. The CDC and the HSE have published typical milestone trackers which you can use to monitor your child’s development. Parents that use my services typically are concerned that their children are not developing at their expected stage of development. What is important to remember is when you are looking at your child’s overall development, you don’t just look at one certain area. You need to take into account your child learning how to learn, how to think, how they adapt, learning how they play, learning how they move and learning how they behave and speak. All of these are so important so you need to look at the whole child’s development and not to focus on one area if you feel your child is not hitting those milestones.
Sometimes children may not be achieving in one area, but in the rest of the areas they seem to be developing fine and I wouldn’t be concerned about this. Take note when your child is not developing in a number of areas, this is when you may need to be concerned. If it is only one or two areas, then the child must develop at their own pace.
If you have a child who is aged between 2 and 3, there are huge milestones to go through at this age. If you are reading what milestones your child should be hitting and noticing there are some your child has not achieved, before you get concerned, look back at the developmental milestones of an 18 month old. If your child has generally achieved most of those, then it is okay to not be overall concerned and let the child develop at their own pace.
If however your child is aged 2 to 3 years and they haven’t reached many of the developmental milestones of an 18 month old then perhaps it might be time for you to do further investigations and examinations.
Your first port of call would be your child’s public health nurse to air your concerns. However in most cases, your child has finished with their visits from their public health nurse so in this case I would advise to make contact with your GP and go in and discuss your concerns. Your GP can then point you in the right direction of whether your child needs physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy or a child psychologist.
Don’t take too long to discuss your concerns with your GP as there are many waiting lists and it can take time to find the right person.
“Getting my child dressed is always a losing battle. Help!”
I think this happens for many many parents. A tip I have for this is to get the child to manage their own sequence of getting dressed or giving them a checklist. What I like to use with preschoolers, as often they have images or visual but they don’t always have the words or they don’t understand the words. If they do, you’re still having to repeat yourself 10 times, get your coat, get your coat etc. So having an easy visual schedule for preschoolers is often very helpful.
What I do is stick a sheet of paper to the wall near the door and attach cut out images of their clothes, hat, scarf, boots etc. I pop a little bit of velcro to the back and then they are easy to attach and detach as the child is getting ready. Then just pop this by the door!
You can download cartoon images for free from do2learn.com or using your camera phone you can take pictures of child in their hat, in their coat etc and use these instead as children LOVE looking at pictures of themselves.
In this way the child can then manage their own sequence of getting ready before they leave the house. You can also do the same concept in their bedrooms for getting dressed in the morning or for night time routines too! By involving the child in the activity themselves, they are more willingly to do it and be independent. Preschoolers love to do things by themselves, for themselves!
“I’m worried to take my child out in public places as she just does not listen.”
What I would say here is you will find it hard to change your child’s behaviour if you don’t experience different social settings and put them in those situations in order to learn. If you try to avoid such social situations like birthday parties or playgrounds or meeting up with other friends and children, you’re denying your child the opportunity to learn what it is like to behave and get on with other children and adults in a social context. When I have met some parents in my clinic, they would often relay stories about instances where they had very difficult temper tantrums or episodes at family gatherings/coffee shops etc with their children and they were trying to avoid going back to those places again. I would encourage all parents to not put yourself under those limitations. Go out and experience those settings because it’s only from those types of situations that you’ll learn of situations that may overwhelm your child or a situation may be too difficult but being able to know what you can change for the next time or what you can work on for the future so it doesn’t happen again.
In therapy there’s a method called reframing. This is where you look at a situation from a different perspective to try and learn more about it. For example, if your child is having difficulty going to someone else’s house in particular or a birthday party and you are noting that they get overwhelmed or upset or not sharing etc, try and reframe that. Well actually this is a learning experience. It will be difficult today, I’ll try my best but I’ll see what are the aspects that are most difficult for my child and how can I support them going forward.
So it’s only by exposing them to these social situations that we learn.
Another example of reframing for adults could be that in a typical household of two adults, there is normally one adult who does the majority of the cleaning. They can often look around and feel upset/angry/annoyed that perhaps everyone else in the family isn’t respecting the time it takes and can get quite irate about it. If this person reframes it, and looks at the situation. They may see shoes thrown on the floor, they can say to themselves, ‘Well, I can get angry here or I can look at those shoes and say well, my children are at home, they’re indoors, they’re safe, I know where they are.” This person may be less likely to get as angry so quickly.
This is not going to solve all the problems but it might get you through the day!