Being a parent can be a daunting experience. Children can present us with many challenges. Sometimes, things that they do can lead to parental worry or concern. Kids do not come with a ‘How to Parent’ manual, so sometimes parents can be left feeling uncertain about whether something that their child is doing is part of normal development or something else. So how do you know if your child is ‘normal’?
One of our experienced Clinical Child Psychologists, Dr. Susan Bruce, provides some insight…
You need to define what is and isn’t ‘normal’. Things that might be a little abnormal for adults are normal behaviours for children because their brains are still developing and they are constantly learning. These are some of the most common ‘problems’ that I get asked about from parents wondering ‘is my child normal?’…
My child lines things up
Arranging toys and possessions in an orderly fashion can be a behaviour seen in Autistic Spectrum Disorder. This is however, also part of a normal developmental process. As a single behaviour in the absence of other concerns, it is unlikely to be a cause for concern.
My child talks to him/herself
Kids talk to themselves during their play. It is a perfectly normal and part of their imagination. This is how they play; creating imaginary friends and scenarios with their toys.
My child has obsessions
Children enjoy familiarity. They love to watch the same TV program or film over and over again. They may like a certain game or story book and insist on this during reading time together. This is perfectly normal. Kids repeat activities as a way to learn and gain mastery over certain skills. Mastering a skill gives them a sense of accomplishment and when that skill becomes familiar this helps to build confidence. Transient “obsessions” are a normal part of child development. Think about Disney films-they may want the latest duvet cover of their favourite character.
Be aware that…
All children are different and develop at different rates. Many reported childhood problems are manifestations of behaviour seen in all children at some point. Things become a problem when a behaviour is inappropriately intense, frequent and persistent. ‘Normal’ difficult behaviours usually only occur in certain situations e.g. temper tantrum at the shops. Behavioural problems occurring in lots of different situations may be an indication of a problem.
If you are concerned speak with a health professional who can sign post you to help and advice. Book a free telephone consultation here.
Child Mind Institute – Symptom Checker