My two oldest daughters couldn’t have been more different growing up.
Megan was a reserved rule-follower who went through elementary school without ever being in trouble. Emily, on the other hand, was a determined girl with a mind of her own…a mind that just happened to get her sent to the corner twice in her first week of school! The first time she was in trouble, Emily explained that she heard The Little Mermaid playing in her head and had no choice but to sing it out. The second time, she told me how they were playing with Play-Doh, and she desperately needed to find out how it tasted. Needless to say, I began comparing my daughters and worrying about Emily’s future.
Pretty soon, I decided it was time to talk with Emily’s kindergarten teacher. I trusted her opinion dearly because of the way she had taught many kids over many years. After sharing my concerns, I’ll never forget her advice. She explained to me that there are 4 ways our kids develop:
When we evaluate our kids, we evaluate them based on these 4 components. Some are like Megan, growing at the same pace in all 4 areas. Other kids like Emily aren’t as consistent across the board. A child may grow mentally and physically, but lag behind socially and emotionally. Or a child may grow mentally and socially faster than they are growing physically.
So how can we best water our late bloomers?
When we notice our child lacking in some way, our first instinct is to freak out. We make wild assumptions and expect the worst. But the best way to water our late-blooming children is to first understand that it will eventually all even out. Just because your child experiences a gap in the norm early on doesn’t mean that they won’t catch up!
Another tendency we have is to try and push our child to grow when they are weak in one of the 4 areas. If we see that they have a hard time making friends, we sign them up for tons of extracurricular activities so they’ll have no choice but to be surrounded by other kids all the time. But instead of forcing a shy child into something they’re not ready for, it may be best to simply give it time and let your child develop deeper friendships on their own. Give them plenty of time and room to soak up the sun and flourish at their own pace.
Finally, our late-blooming children are watered well when they see our confidence in them. This means having faith that your child will grow into the wonderful young man or woman that God created them to be—at their own pace, and in their own way.