Growing up pangs

Growing up pangs

Parents’ common questions about their growing child



Published: Tue 4 Oct 2011, 4:16 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:08 AM

Newborn or tween, toddler or teen, a child’s developmental progress is always a source of questions for parents.

Each stage of life comes with its own unique set of joys and challenges, and parents are always looking for information that can help them guide their children through every phase.

Plenty of books provide parents with information on birth, infancy and toddlerhood. However, that time period just after toddler years but before they start school full-time is much more loosely defined. Parents may be unsure of what to expect in terms of their child’s growth and development, but realise their concerns usually don’t warrant a call to their pediatrician.

“It’s important for parents to be able to have their concerns addressed about their child’s development,” says pediatrician Jennifer Trachtenberg, chief pediatric officer for RealAge.com and a member of the GoodNites NiteLite Panel, a group of pediatricians and parenting experts. “Many of the things that parents worry about are perfectly normal for growing kids, and children will eventually outgrow these phases.”

Here are three common developmental phases of children, aged 4-6, along with Dr. Trachtenberg’s suggestions on how parents can support their child during this time:

Nighttime wetness

It’s common for children to continue experiencing nighttime accidents for a few years after they’ve been successfully potty trained. Millions of kids aged four and up experience bedwetting. Most kids will outgrow bedwetting as their bodies mature and bladders grow with the rest of their bodies. But if parents are worried, they

should consult their pediatrician. Parents can ease stressful nighttime accidents — and help keep sheets dry — with a few easy steps. Limit liquids at night, stick to a bedtime schedule and try using protection like absorbent underwear.

Thumb-sucking

Sucking is instinctive for infants. It’s a way to get nourishment and is comforting for babies and young children. Babies and toddlers often suck their thumbs, but most children outgrow the habit on their own around ages 4-5, when they begin school.

If you’re still worried, ask your pediatrician and they can help you decide if you need to take action. Treatment may include talking to your child about the side effects of thumb-sucking, including teeth movement and germs, starting a rewards system or providing a visual reminder like a bracelet or watch. Most of all, be patient, consistent and provide encouragement.

Speech development

Children’s speech skills begin developing in infancy, long before they can actually talk. By the time they are two years old, most children can use two- or three-word phrases, name virtually everything around them and be understood by family members. At age five, most children can easily be understood by strangers and can communicate complex concepts.

Parents may be concerned if their child mispronounces words or seems to struggle with expressing complex communications. Rest assured, it’s probably just part of the process of growing up. As always, discuss serious concerns with a pediatrician, who may refer your child to a speech pathologist or an audiologist for testing.

“It’s perfectly normal for parents to worry about developmental phases,” says Dr. Trachtenberg. “Time, patience and some comforting tactics will usually help children continue to thrive as they outgrow common developmental issues.”

— ARAcontent


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