“Is this normal for my kid’s age, or is this something I should worry about?”
This is the number one question I get asked “Should I worry about this? Or will they grow out of it?”
While of course we wonder this, I encourage you to think about this differently.
Instead, ask yourself two important questions–
-Is this hurting my kid’s perception of themselves?
-Is this harming my family and our connectedness?
If you find yourself questioning the normalcy of certain behaviors, such as bedtime battles, homework resistance, meltdowns, or just a general attitude shift on the part of your kid, remember that there’s no universal definition of “normal.”
Instead of wondering what’s developmentally appropriate, think about how these things you’re noticing are impacting your child’s self-perception, and your ability to be together as a family.
What is always true for a kid is that they will rise or fall to the expectations set for them and the way their family views them.
For kids, I am as I am seen.
If you’re wondering if a behavior or new circumstance is going to go away on its own, or if you want to do something about it for your child, this principle comes first.
Let’s take homework refusal as an example– is your child thinking about themselves as a poor student? Are their siblings getting annoyed with the attention they’re taking up?
Or, is homework something you think should get done, even though it isn’t impacting your larger family dynamic, your kid is fine with not doing it, and even though there’s no research at all that shows that homework below age 12 is appropriate or helpful. (story for another time.. But seriously.. What’s with homework for first graders!?)
If it’s not impacting your kid or your family, I encourage you to let it go!!
The only things that truly matter are how we see ourselves and what standard we rise up to.
Now, let’s focus on the more meaningful questions:
-Does this behavior affect my child’s self-perception?
Often when I ask parents that question they aren’t sure! I suggest that you ask your kids, ‘hey what are you really good at, who do you think you are in the family, what do you think your role is in this family, how do you help this family’ and really see what they have to say.
If it’s impacting their self perception, it doesn’t matter if it’s normal or not, it matters how they’re seeing themselves and what story they’re telling themselves about themselves.
-How does it impact their role within the family?
If your child is doing something that so annoys you, or their brothers or their sisters, and it is impacting their place in the family, then it doesn’t matter if it’s normal or not. It matters how you help them reintegrate into the family.
I hope you use these two guiding questions to reframe what you’re wondering about.
What truly matters for your child is how you support them in integrating into the family and nurturing their own positive self-image.
Is this impacting my child’s self-image?
Is this impacting my child’s place in the family?
If not, I encourage you to let it go. There’s plenty else to worry about 🙂
PS – of course, education can provide insights into typical developmental stages, and gives you an understanding of what’s happening in your child’s brain so you can understand them better. If you’re interested in understanding where your child might be at each stage, consider joining my Raising Resilient Kids course. The summer cohort is full, but I’d love to have you in the fall!