It isn't easy having a toddler who's "behind" some of his counterparts. We've all been there. One of our friend's kids is reading Sense and Sensibility at 12 months, and our sweet child can barely say "dada." I remember being concerned that my daughter still wasn't drinking out of a sippy cup at her first birthday when my cousin's kids were essentially enjoying their milk out of crystal champagne flutes. But it passed. Eventually, I stopped caring, and coincidentally, at the same time, my daughter was willing to give up her beloved bottle. Lesson learned: There's no sense in trying to "force" your child to do something they're not ready for.
The truth is pushing something on your child will likely wind up producing the opposite effect. Sadly, though, some parents don't get this. In fact, some parents go to disturbing extremes in an effort to "teach" their young kids. Like the woman who was allegedly caught on tape striking her poor 3-year-old for messing up the alphabet.
The video has since been taken down, but Rosena Small, 25, of Indiana was arrested and charged with neglect of a dependent and battery resulting in bodily injury after police reportedly viewed a video that showed her hitting her toddler son and screaming at him as he struggled to say the alphabet. The disturbing footage, uploaded to the Internet by her ex, evidently shows Small using a metal door stopper to smash her son’s toys when he couldn’t repeat the letters she screamed at him. Her son has since been placed in foster care after a child welfare case manager showed up at the apartment when police arrested her and took custody of the boy. Heartbreaking on so many levels.
What Small allegedly did is child abuse, and there's NO excuse for that whatsoever. But what struck me about this story was the impetus for hitting him -- because he couldn't recite the alphabet. Clearly, Small has issues, and this likely wasn't the first time she endangered her child, but it seems so odd, so extreme. Sure, there have been cases like this before, but she wanted her son to learn. And this is how she handled it. Of course this isn't going to work. It will likely only make her child come to hate learning, possibly even fear it.
When your child isn't keeping up with the Joneses in terms of milestones or learning, if you know there isn't anything wrong, let it be. They'll get there when they can. Trying to make them do something before they're ready will almost always backfire. Like I said, this awful story is an extreme circumstance, and much different than simply wanting your baby to take a sippy cup, but it certainly is a reminder.
Now let's all hope this little boy winds up in a good home and is raised by (patient) people who love him.
Have you, or anyone you know, ever tried to make your child do something before they were ready?
Image via Lyn Lomasi/Flickr