Checking Boxes

Yes, no, yes, no. I’ve probably completed a handful of these things. I’ve had to go through them on my own, but generally with a professional. The assessments were always at least 5 pages long. They covered various things from speaking, to fine motor skills, and eating habits. The first of these assessments was done because my son was not speaking words at a certain age level.  Evaluations were highly recommended.

What I learned from toddler evaluations -

PC: energepic (

“Some of these are things he shouldn’t be able to do yet, and that’s ok. We’re just trying to get a feel for where he’s at.”

Yes, no. Yes, no. Sometimes. What toddler does that already?

In the beginning, the questions felt intrusive. Other times, they made me feel bad. While there were obvious things that weren’t supposed to apply, there were tasks that I just didn’t give him the opportunity to try. Thus, my answers to those were no. Guilt ensued. Was I suppose to do that already ? Is it bad that he doesn’t do that? Did I do something wrong?

After each assessment, I would either receive a brief review or a report days later.  I’d hear the same things – great on some, not so great on others, concerns on speaking and meeting others. After the first few times, I always felt saddened and stressed.  We try so very hard. Not all children are the same, and yet, we’re behind. Aside from his issues with speaking and meeting others, I never thought our son had issues with anything else.  He was so active, and seemed to be doing well when compared with his friends.

After the third time, my skin had toughened. My son had been going to a play gym and doing well in speech therapy.  He was making a lot of progress. Why he may be a shy kid in some situations, he can be a happy, active one in others.  He presents some skills and behaviors that are the right for his age.  In some cases, he’s a little advanced. He’s just like any other kid. He still has some delays with speaking, but I’ve come to terms with that. We’re doing everything we can, and he can say a few words, and uses sign language as well.  He’s making progress!

The specialists even say that there are tasks on the list that likely won’t apply due to their age. Each child puts focuses on their own things. My son excels at fine motor skills and play related activities. Another child in his playgroup is really great at speaking.

We’re far from being removed from the evaluations. There are milestones to verify and tests to see if his therapy is working.  The questions will continue, but hopefully, I will look at all the progress that we’ve made.  When it comes to your children, I feel like you always have approach things with a lot of positivity, and just a bit of caution.

Parenthood is hard enough; why should we give ourselves more grief because our children don’t check off every box on an impossible list? This experience, while difficult and harrowing, taught me yet another lesson about parenthood.  Raising children isn’t a race. We’re all going at our own pace, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.  Guidelines are just that – guidelines. Sometimes, they feel like deadlines – but it doesn’t always mean that missing them is detrimental. They will get there on their own time. Our job is just support and teach them as best that we can.

34 thoughts on “Checking Boxes

  1. Pingback: Every Single Word | This Mommy is Real

  2. I can’t tell you how many times as a special education coordinator that I had parents look at me with overwhelmed expressions as I used terms they were unfamiliar with. I HATED it. I finally stopped and became the parent in their shoes. It’s scary and overwhelming and most of all, uncomfortable. I just want to say to you and any other parent going through this, you are doing a fantastic job already! You took him to get tested! You followed the advise and you worked with your child! You’re right! Every child is different. And sometimes they fall behind because they are busy concentrating on another developmental skill! I’ve never met a first grader who didn’t talk. He will be fine!! You keep doing great mama!!


  3. This is a great reminder! Children are all individuals and they develop at their own pace. As you so eloquently put it “raising children isn’t a race”.


  4. I like that you are so real in this post. I agree. Our kids don’t have to measure up in every area. I did that with my first, and I just created stress in my own life. Was he weighing enough, doing the gross motor skills on time…? And then with my second, I threw the boxes out the window. Kids are kids and they aren’t perfect, they don’t do things on point. And that’s ok, because they are unique and perfectly created the way they should be. Thanks for speaking out about this!


  5. This is great! It’s so true that every child is different and learns at different speeds but it is so easy to get caught up in comparing to other kids.


  6. This can be stressful but if we understand each child is different and blessed with different abilities accepting becomes easy. Keep cheering all milestones achieved however small they may be.


  7. This is really well written and I’ve never really thought of the check boxes from a position of stressors. As a healthcare person myself, it’s a good point for providers to think of when those checklists are constructed! I think of parents whose children won’t just meet the check boxes in their own time, but won’t meet them at all. How hard it must be in that case!


  8. I love this! I feel like there’s so much pressure sometimes m, and being around other moms or seeing on social media like should my little one be doing that already?? But we have to remember each child is different and they all have strengths and things they need extra work on!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like to think of parenting as a scavenger hunt. Your kid might not check all the boxes in the order you’d like or as quickly as you’d like. But, eventually they will get there. That’s why I love doing developmental screenings with my kids. It reminds me that while they might not be ready for some tasks, they exceed at others. Keep up the good work!


  10. I like to think of raising kids like a scavenger hunt. Eventually, they will check all the boxes, it just might not be in the order or as quickly as you’d like. I love doing developmental screenings with my kids because it reminds me how they may exceed in some areas, but aren’t ready for other areas yet. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As a teacher and a mom of two little boys, I can completely understand what you’re gone through. Being a parent is one of the most challenging jobs, besides being a teacher ;). I’ve come across so many types of parents…the good, the bad and the ugly! 😉 Just know that you are enough and you are doing you’re best. Forget the check boxes and you’re right…it’s not a race! You know what’s best for your child and everything will work out. Hang in there mama!


  12. Every child is different. Can you imagine how boring the world would be if they were all the same? Kudos to you for recognizing your son’s strengths, and allowing him to be who he is.


  13. This is a great advise! I am a teacher andI can see how all mentioned can give a lot of stress to parents. Stay positive and let your little one how proud you are about the small improvements. That is also a great help!


  14. Great advice! I have a son that is 8 and has had his struggles with his speech. He is a great communicator now and it is because I always allow him to speak to me as much as he likes, from reading books out loud, and memorizing poems it has all helped him. We make sure to cheer him on every step of the way.


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