DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES: 6 TO 16 YEARS
ParentEdge|March - April 2021
As parents, we eagerly look for the early milestones in our child's life - the first step, the first word. There are other equally important markers, rites of passage into independence, when our children are primary schoolers, adolescents or teens. What are these? When do these typically happen? What should a parent be watchful about? Read on. A child learns to ride a bicycle A teenager takes the local train by himself for parents, these milestones are as important as teaching opportunities as they are occasions to rejoice (with a sense of apprehension, of course). Let us examine some of these:

Sleeping in a room alone

In many Indian families, children cosleeping with their parents is accepted. So by no means should the reader conclude that this is an essential milestone for a child to reach. Having the child sleep by himself in a room is a choice for the family to make. If you decide that your child needs to do this, then you can start a little ahead of your child’s sixth year.

Specialists recommend that you:

• Focus on helping your child go to sleep in his own room, rather than moving him once he has fallen asleep from your room to his.

• Provide calming music, tuck him up, wish him ‘Good Night’ cheerfully and leave the room. A nightlight may help.

• Remember not to let the process coincide with any momentous event in his life, like the arrival of a sibling in the family or change in school etc.

Playing group sports

The American Academy of Paediatrics suggests that team sports are appropriate for children over the age of six, when they can communicate well and follow directions. This is more or less in line with sports coaching in India — most group sports are open to children above seven years of age.

• An aspect parents need to be flexible about is the choice of group sport – it will be good if the child can try out a few sports before making a decision as to which to pursue.

• It is also best to keep children from engaging in competitive group sports until they turn nine years old.

Learning to ride a bicycle

Most children learn to ride a bicycle somewhere in the 6-9 years range. We are all familiar with bicycles with training wheels. But training wheels only let the child become familiar with being seated and using pedals, not balancing. Instead, try the method of removing the pedals after lowering the seat so the feet rest on the ground – the child learns to scoot and coast and thus balance. He later learns to pedal and steer. You can also try a balance bike.

Do remember:

• Do not force a reluctant child to learn to ride a bicycle.

• Insist on use of a helmet and encourage elbow and knee protection pads.

• Learn to literally let go. “As parents we are all very protective but from personal experience I can say that the more we protect them, the more we hamper their growth,” says Amit Gupta, paediatrician.

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