Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ages and Stages – Don’t Compare

Have you ever sat in a group of parents and children and noticed major differences between children where milestones like crawling, walking or talking are concerned?

While it is true that most children pass through predictable stages of development, there is no specific age that they will occur.

Although much is written about typical behavior at certain ages or stages (myself included), a span of three to five months around the target age is entirely typical.

For this reason, it’s important not to compare children or their abilities to other children.

Communication, gross motor (large muscle groups), fine motor (hands and fingers), personal-social, and problem-solving are five major areas of child development. In my years of working with children, I’ve come to recognize that each child has their own individual areas of strength or interest. Early talkers may not be early walkers and vice versa, but they will eventually conquer each domain on their own time table.

As a home visitor/parent educator, parents and I used the Ages and Stages Questionnaire provided by our agency to periodically assess children’s development. Not only did the parents get reassured that their child was progressing on target for his or her age, but the questions themselves provided clues as to what types of activities they could or should be doing.

The University of Oregon’s Early Intervention Program is currently studying the development of infants and young children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years. As part of this study, they are allowing any parent to fill-out (anonymously) an Ages and Stages Questionnaire online for their child. They do ask for basic demographics information for their study, but no names or locations.

The questionnaire itself takes only a few minutes and once completed, you will receive the confidential results immediately through your e-mail address. You can also print out the completed questionnaire and additional activities for your child’s stage. There is no cost for this service.

Take the Ages & Stages Questionnaire at:

Nanny's Note: As always, please discuss your concerns with your pediatrician.

Photo Credit: Anissa Thompson; Carson, CA
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  1. I am so glad you put this up! I will TOTALLY take that questionnaire...Quite honestly, I am one of those people you described, comparing my daughter to what I remember my son doing at that age and I shouldn't be! Each child develops at his/her own rate...thanks SO MUCH for this site! :)

  2. Hi there! So so happy with your comments, and your blog does look wonderful :) thx for joining my blog. I'm already a follower on yours. I'll keep coming back :)

  3. My first daughter was born 5 days before her cousin and I always felt like my sister-in-law was comparing the two, even though they were totally different. I think now with my second child, I'm much better at not looking at what other babies her age are able to do - who cares!

    p.s. thanks for the comments, I'm following you too!

  4. Thanks Theta Mom, Thais, and Xenia for your comments!

    Theta Mom -- I'm glad some of this information is helpful!

    Xenia - It is very hard to be around other parents who make comparison comments, usually as if they are doing something right and you are somehow lacking.

    Even as adults, some of us are artistic (wish I was!), some are sports types, and some are outgoing friendly types. We all are unique and so are our children! :D

  5. Hi Dee,
    Nice to meet you! Following you from MBC. What a wonderful post, as a new mom I know it is easy to get caught up in the "comparing" thing but as you said we are unique and so our our children. Here Here!

  6. Ugh, I've had t3 friends comparing my kids to theirs. It's very annoying.
    I know that no one wants to raise a child who is constantly being compared to everyone else. That's where it starts though.

    Both of my girls are very different. Each hit milestones at different times, some sooner and some later then the other.

    Great post.

  7. Great Post. As a mother of three who are 17, 11 and 3 I often don't compare them. However, my younger 2 have cousins that are about the same age and it is hard not to compare. Even though I know they all reach goals at different times.
    I have both a secondary ed. science teachers license and an elem ed license. I just recently quit to be a SAHM.

  8. Hi,
    Love the photo on this post! Thanks for the comment on my blog about Megan's blog.

  9. I also have the tendencies to compare my child and her development with other kids. Your post here is really helpful for me. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work Mom! By the way, there's a new social networking site dedicated to parents and kids, it's called - it's a place for Moms, Dads, and Kids! Now, there’s even a chance to win a free iPod Nano! I'm inviting you to meet other parents. And enjoy parenthood to the fullest. Thanks.

  10. thanks for the follow. i am now following you. super cute picture on this entry.

  11. Thanks for the nice comment! I'm going to be reading your blog a lot, my little guy just turned 18 months & good advice is always helpful! Love to see the link to U of O here, I'm an alumnus. Of course I'd fill out the questionnaire because it sounds so interesting, it's just a bonus it's from the U of O! :) Go Ducks!

  12. Three of my girlfriends and I all had babies within a month of each other. For three of us it was our second child, so we were naturally trying NOT to compare development from our first-borns. Now we had four babies all of the same age developing a very different paces to try to pay no mind as well. It's not easy. I will say that it was so interesting to see them individually progress. Now that they are almost two year old they are much closer development. Your right- eventually they all get there.

  13. This is very true, my friend has twins and between the three of them (including my monkey) they all have things they are really great at and other stuff they need to work on. They are all different, but it is great that they teach each other.

  14. Following you back from MBC. Love your blog! I was born/raised in MA and now a transplant in So Cal. Can't wait to read more!

  15. Still loving your blog, Nanny Dee! When you have a minute, come by mine because I have an award for you...

  16. thanks for sharing this! I totally agree - kids should not be compared. I am guilty of one of the parents that compared a lot with my first. I always wanted to see if my child was doing what others were and so on. Now by the time I've made it to my third I can so much more appreciate how children are all so different (even ones that come from the same mommy & daddy - lol!) and develop and reach milestones at different rates.

  17. I totally used to compare my son to other children and then stopped when I realized that every child develops differently. Not only that but boys and girls develop differently and at different rates.

    Thanks for this reminder!

  18. Great post! As a new mom, I know it is easy to find yourself comparing your little one to others in terms of development. Thanks for the link to the questionnaire. I am going to check it out.