Friday, September 29, 2023

Developmental Checklist….am I making the grade as a parent?

March 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Parenting From Balance©

When I read anything about parenting and child development, I spontaneously begin evaluating myself on my own parenting of my son. As I recently read a developmental checklist for early childhood, I felt the urge to pat myself on the back many times. But then I came to the piece about peaceful conflict resolution “Has the ability to resolve conflicts peacefully” (which of course is the true point of all of my journey in parenting), and I flinched. Does my son resolve his conflicts with his peers peacefully?

I have heard that he is amazingly peaceful and tends to be the one who resolves the conflicts between and among the playing partners (when I am not around).

But when I read “resolves conflicts without aggression or hurtful language,” I flinch. I do hear “Stop it, you idiot!” in the yard at playschool… and it is often my own son who is uttering those words (like little stabs into my ears). And I explain to him, or whoever else is yelling them, that this doesn’t work for 2 reasons:

a) calling him an idiot doesn’t tell him anything about what you are wanting him to do better next time

b) calling names is like hitting, because you are using a word as a weapon to hurt.

And still the name calling continues.

I guess I should take refuge in the fact that my son is only 5, and the prefrontal cortex, which governs impulse control, is not fully developed until the age of 27. But I still get tired saying it over and over again, for months… “please tell him what you don’t want him to do. Don’t call him a name. That’s not OK… name calling is using words as weapons…..

It seems that every few months we circle back to this point again. And I get so frustrated at times with his incredible lack of progress in this area, that I am often not able to stop and observe what is going on for him in that moment. If I can just climb down from my judgmental throne and take up my post as Kian’s champion, his unfailing supporter, then I can take a good look and see what has changed for him that made him lose the impulse control he so recently had mastery over. And it is always something that is a new challenge. This time it is a certain new boy at school who cannot control his own impulsivity and really intrudes on the space of others. He is 4 years old, and still working on impulse control…like everyone who has not yet reached 30, in fact.

So my 5 year old big man (he doesn’t allow me to call him a little boy) just needs a little slack, really. We all lose our control once in a while, even those of us waaay past the age of 27.

And just because so many parents think I am above all of this, and even perhaps a kind of “super mom;” and just because my son is incredibly adept at conflict resolution among his peers, doesn’t mean that he travels through the developmental stages any quicker. I just have to remember that my job is to stand by him and be his champion, so he doesn’t have to feel alone or judged for having traveling through them fully.

Lots of love,
Linda Shannon


One Response to “Developmental Checklist….am I making the grade as a parent?”
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