Gazing at their newborns, most parents are ready to slay evil ogres and behead fire-breathing dragons to keep their precious new baby safe. Unfortunately, over the years, the perils facing their child will rarely appear in such easily recognizable forms. Instead they will often be cloaked in commonly accepted norms and standard practices.
How many young mothers today shake their heads condescendingly at the memory of their own great-grandmothers meticulously preparing bottles of formula? Yet the prevailing notion of that day was that scientifically engineered nutrition was better than breastfeeding. The trick is not to feel superior but instead to ask what might be today’s equally foolish and unsupportable fallacies.
As one school year comes to a close and parents’ thoughts turn to the next one, it is worth examining a potential modern dragon. It seems that children with fall birthdays are substantially more likely to get diagnosed, incorrectly, with ADHD. This mis-diagnosis has extensive implications and often leads to the use of unnecessary and potentially harmful medication.
The fact that a perfectly normal condition – such as being born in November – can lead to a medical diagnosis should frighten all parents. A chasm separates a newborn from a year-old toddler. The gap between a three and four year old is massive. Does it take anything more than common sense to realize that a twelve month difference is still huge when talking about kindergarten age children? Yet the smooth running of a classroom can take priority over recognizing a natural growth and maturation process.
While it is human nature for mothers and fathers to feel proud (superior?) when their baby is an early walker or talker, no one feels the urge to send a still-crawling thirteen-month-old to remedial walking classes. That willingness to respect a child’s internal schedule dissipates rapidly. The more the child needs to fit in to a group, the less attention is paid to the child’s unique timetable.
Being a few months younger than one’s classmates isn’t a medical condition. Neither is having an internal clock that runs slightly differently from other children’s. Taking time this summer to look for dragons on the horizon can spare you and your child from future foes.