When Joni Nilson was a new mother, she was not sure her daughter would reach developmental milestones according to her expectations. "My mom had to keep reminding me that each child is different," she says.

Comparing a child’s development against others is not necessarily abad thing, but when parents become competitive, the result can betroublesome, according to family counsellor Jill Hutchins.

Everyone develops at their own pace

Too often, competitive parents see early development as a sign ofgenius or a reflection of good parenting, but it’s neither. Each childhas his own God-given developmental pace; being "ahead of schedule" isno indication that he’ll be a candidate for Mensa membership (IQ in thetop two per cent) or invited into a gifted and talented program.

Amy realized how hurtful comparisons were when she, her sister andher sister-in-law had babies within six weeks of each other. "Of thethree cousins, my son really did talk first, walk first, everything,"Amy says. "I thought it was OK to brag about how fast he was growing."

Guarding our words

It took an unpleasant conversation with her brother before Amyunderstood that her progress reports sounded like one-upmanship toothers. "I apologized, but now I feel as though I can’t talk about thisimportant part of my life."

The novelty of comparing children rarely wears off. With her fourthchild, Joni still checked her child’s development against otherpeople’s children at that stage. The difference is that Joni knows herdaughter will reach each developmental milestone at her own pace.

Joni says, "Now, when I see a baby doing something earlier than I’dexpect, I think, ‘Wow! How interesting!’ instead of worrying over it."

From Focus on Your Child’s Early Stages, May 2008. Published by Focus on the Family U.S. © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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