Kids Don’t Skip Stages

Kids don’t skip stages.

I read this on some online forum months ago, and it stopped me in my tracks. And it shook my entire parenting paradigm too – in a good way.

We have asynchronous kids. They do things on their own schedules. Some things happen very fast, and they fly past their same-age peers. Other things take more time. It’s okay. It’s part of the gifted game, and I am learning to accept that.

Somehow, though, in my mind, the stages that my kid seemingly skipped over had nothing to do with the behavioral issues we were currently dealing with. 

Piaget‘s theories of cognitive development made the case that children need the foundation of the earlier stage before they progress to the next, though he was looking at that development in much broader, more global terms.

Freud also stated that if people were prematurely moved beyond an early stage, they would go back later in life to make up for that absence. 

Now, I’m not a psychologist. I took a couple undergrad psych courses about 20 years ago, but all of this started to make sense to me.

When he was three, my son spent much more time reading and doing worksheets than the ordinary kid, who would have been exploring the world, climbing, tumbling, touching everything. Now that we’ve started to tackle some of the sensory issues that may have been in the way, he’s catching up for lost time. 


It’s not immaturity; it’s filling in the gaps.

J skipped crawling almost entirely. He bear crawled for a bit (sensory avoider, anyone?!) and then was an early walker. He didn’t have motor skills delays until he was about 3. Then the other kids who had spent more time on their hands and knees kept progressing and he slowed down a bit. We’re now intentionally crawling, wheelbarrow walking, laying on our tummies (he HATED tummy time!), and doing the work that most other kids would have already done.


The same with chewing. He didn’t really put things in his mouth… until he was 5. 

It’s a stage we have to work through rather than a negative behavior we need to correct. 

Of course, now that he is older, we can help him find appropriate ways to work through these things. I can still tell him not to lick the shopping cart handle. I’m not indulging his every impulse simply because there’s an unmet need. 

Instead, we work together to find ways to work through these developmental imperatives together.

Why am I sharing this? 

Because you might have a six year old wiggler too. Or a seven year old that needs to pretend play on the four year old level because he was so caught up in non-fiction books that he had no interest in pretending. Or maybe a ten year old who suddenly needs to touch everything. And it’s okay. They’ll get there. 


This blog has been part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop, Ages & Stages. “Hop on over” to read more about what various developmental stages look like for gifted kids and adults, and maybe recognize your kids or even yourself in their words. 


It’s Not that Simple! – Big Emotions and Major Life Events

My 6yo was at the dentist, and naturally, he got asked about the tooth fairy.

“The tooth fairy doesn’t come to our house.” – his matter-of-fact reply.

The dental hygienist cast me an inquiring glance – what kind of horrible parents are we, anyways?

It’s not our fault, though. Really. When he was 4, my son rejected the tooth fairy. Even if it was only pretend. Even if it meant he would miss out on special surprises. It didn’t matter to him. He wanted to throw those bothersome old teeth away and had no use for the tooth fairy.

Recent New Yorker Cartoon about the Tooth Fairy
The same was/is true of Santa.

Every December, we lecture our children on how it’s not okay to tell other kids that Santa’s not real, and then we hold our breaths and hope there are no sobbing children in their wakes.

He’s never accepted Santa, never been interested in him in the slightest. The concept of a stranger sneaking in to our home, even with good motives, is disquieting, at the very least.

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Where is this coming from? Anxiety? A deeper understanding of the world and of cause & effect?

In Sunday School and reading Bible stories at home, our little guy, even at 3 or 4, was bothered by the death and violence in these commonplace stories. I’m talking David & Goliath, Noah & the Ark, Samson. His empathy can be off the charts (thanks, overexcitabilities!), so these stories really bothered him.

I used to think that it was related to overthinking, but recently it’s becoming clearer that his unwillingness to approach these subjects is actually much more closely related to Emotional Overexcitabilities (OEs). He feels things so deeply that things which would, for others, be joyful, end up being excruciatingly overstimulating. The tooth fairy isn’t fun. She’s terrifying in the anticipation of when/what/how much.

Birthdays are tough, too. There’s all the build-up, the expectations ahead of time that will be impossible to meet. The self-awareness of it being your birthday and therefore not someone else’s, the stress that comes with being the center of attention.

Our kids are built this way. They’re not broken. They’re intensely feeling, hyper aware, amazing people who get crazy amounts of joy out of little things.

If we know that someone has a small appetite, we don’t try to shove a huge piece of cake in front of them. Instead, we honor their preferences and provide the size of slice they most likely will enjoy.

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last year’s marble birthday cake – we keep things simple around here
The same should be true of our kids. Instead of forcing them to be “normal” and to conform to society’s expectations, we release them from huge burdens of anxiety when we give them the freedom to tell us what portion size they can handle and then work to accommodate those needs.

When they’re ready, they’ll ask for more. In fact, my 6yo was just pretending this week to be the “tooth fairy” for his little sisters. Someday soon, we may actually get a visit.

 

This post has been part of Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page’s Blog hop.  Click on over to check out some helpful perspectives from all over the world.

Sept2017BlogHop

Brain Under Construction

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This is the packaging my 6 year old created for his dad’s father’s day gift. His dad is a particle physicist, so there’s intentionality in this list.

This is how my 6yo rolls. J thrives on new information. Tonight, I asked what he wanted to read for a bedtime story, and he chose an elementary math dictionary, the pages on functions and algebra. We’re not pushing this on him. We’re not hothousing him. I suggested Dr. Frumble’s Bedtime Stories, (aff. link) but he wanted to talk about algebra and to do 78*2*2 in his head.

This isn’t to brag. It’s just the reality of who he is. Like other kids who can ride a bike early, are totally coordinated, musically inclined, socially aware, or have other talents. Everyone has some area in which he or she shines. Some are more recognized and celebrated by society than others.

He started reading at 3, and would sit for hours, reading books and completing worksheets. But that’s time he didn’t spend running, jumping, and socializing with other kids. So we have to make that up now, as those parts of his brain “wake up”, so to speak. It means that we’re practicing some of the same social skills that we are with my 3 year olds, like not taking things without asking. But it’s not wrong. It’s an outgrowth of how his brain works.

He’s asynchronous. Different areas of his brain are developing at rates outside what is typically expected, and because some parts are getting more attention, others have been neglected and are waking up later.

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That means that we can be discussing what kinds of metals are best for cars or staples, and the next I’m telling him not to lick his stuffed sheep. (true story)