"Is my child delayed?" DUPLO asks BlogHer Mom Mary from OwlHaven to answer your parenting questions.

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This week we welcome Mary from OwlHaven who addresses the question, is my child delayed?

As a toddler, my 4th child was very fearful of being left with anyone but mom and dad.  Fortunately, I was only working part time, on my husband’s days off.  We didn’t need babysitters much.   But my son’s fears became challenging on Sunday mornings.  Every time I tried to leave him in toddler Sunday School and head off to the adult class, he was miserable.  I spent his one year old year volunteering in his class.  I figured that by the time he was two, he’d be better at separating from me. 

Nope.  Whether I left quickly, or waited 15 minutes for him to get ‘comfortable’ in the class, he’d howl as soon as I walked out the door, and continue to howl until I returned.

After many tears, I decided just to stay with him until he was ready for me to leave.  Well, that didn’t happen until a few months after he turned three.  Now that same boy is an outgoing 15 year old, the type whose clever one-liners bring laughter to a roomful of people.  A drummer, complete with flourishes.  The kind of guy who welcomes a new kid at church and immediately helps him feel comfortable. 

Waiting worked. Brilliantly.  But first I had to let go of my own ideas and just let him develop on his own timetable. 

It is extremely common for a child to have some areas where he develops slower and some where he develops faster than normal.  That same shy son of mine, so slow to leave his momma, learned to read --  fluently! --  at the age of four. 

Of course we all love it when our kids develop ahead of schedule.  It’s harder if a child is developing on the slow end of the spectrum.  Most of us as parents have a fear of that big bad ‘d’ word—is my child ‘delayed?’  Talk to your pediatrician any time you’re concerned about your child’s development. There are times when a child may need intervention to help him reach important milestones.  But in most cases, time is all a child needs.

I’m sure that some people thought I was overindulging my son by sitting in his class for a year.  But really, I was just giving him what he needed.

Having the patience to wait for a child’s readiness is an important skill to learn.  How about you? Can you think of a time in your parenting career where a little extra time was all your child needed?

-Mary

Mary Ostyn is the mother of 10 children ages 4-21.  She is the author of A SANE WOMAN’S GUIDE TO RAISING A LARGE FAMILY and FAMILY FEASTS FOR $75 A WEEK.  She blogs at  Owlhaven.

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