Parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers often describe moments when they are watching, waiting, wondering, and worrying about their young children. They wonder whether their fussy baby is getting enough sleep or worry about whether their picky toddler is eating enough fruit and vegetables. They may find it hard to wait for a child to begin to crawl or talk and wonder about when their child may reach this milestone.
The love that parents and caregivers of young children feel for their rapidly changing infants and toddlers may be part of the reason this worrying and wondering begins. Parents and caregivers want to give infants and toddlers the best start they can. It is normal to worry whether they have enough resources or knowledge to help their child reach their fullest potential. They may wonder whether having more books, more toys, or signing their child up for more classes is what their child needs to grow and thrive. They may spend time worrying and wondering whether they are giving their child enough. This worry can lead to discouragement and feelings of inadequacy as a parent or caregiver. They may wonder: “Am I what my child needs?”
Each child in early intervention develops on a unique timeline. Early intervention families may find themselves worrying or wondering about whether their child is doing okay as they watch their child and wait for their child to reach particular milestones or skills. It can be difficult to avoid comparing your child’s progress to those of infants and toddlers who do not have a developmental delay or disability. This comparison can cause even more worry, which can be overwhelming.
In these moments, it is important to remember that you are what your child needs. He needs a loving caregiver who wants to help him grow. Every time you interact with your child by talking, playing, and doing daily tasks, you are building your child’s brain and helping his body become stronger and more skillful. You also are not alone. Reach out to your EI team, family, and friends for support and help.
Remember as a parent or primary caregiver, you have the most interactions and opportunities to watch your child discover her world. Share your observations and the things you wonder about with your EI team.
Sometimes you will need to wait to connect with an EI team member until the next EI session. While you wait, you can write down, video, or photograph the behaviors or skills you are wondering about.
Reaching out to your EI team can help you set aside worries about whether you are giving your child all that he needs. Remember, you are what your child needs! Involved, caring parents and caregivers working with their EI team to achieve outcomes give children a strong start.
The post was adapted from an article that first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of the Early Intervention Clearinghouse newsletter.