The Importance of Developmental Milestones In Early Childhood
Even the most functional of children can have something going on inside their brains that isn’t optimal for their development. Sometimes, it can be hard to notice certain issues. These issues are not apparent at first glance, especially if your child is doing so well in other areas of their lives.
This is where developmental milestones come into play. These checkpoints help us track our children’s growth to see where they’re succeeding and where they may be having more trouble.
Nowadays, more and more children are spending an increased amount of time in front of a screen. Between TV, phones, computers – our children are growing up in a world unlike any we’ve known before. This is increasing the amount of white matter in their brains and influencing their development.
So what does this mean?
Well, the brain is made up of grey matter and white matter. Grey matter is what we use to actually process this information. The white matter is what we use to take information everywhere in the brain.
So now, with more white matter, our children are lacking a filter. The information that goes into their brain is coming out at a higher rate, skipping the part where it actually needs to be processed. Like too many trains on the track.
But what type of problems does this cause in developmental stages?
Since parents often see early progress as a sign of intelligence, they don’t always notice the deeper issues right away. For example: if a child is walking earlier than others, of course their parents see it as a good thing. But the problem is that crawling is essential to development. Moving on from that stage too early isn’t good for a child’s body or brain. Crawling teaches the body how to communicate with the brain. Crawling, opposite arm and leg, which takes movement up to the opposite side of the brain. This is the beginning of how both sides of the brain will “learn” how to communicate with each other.
Crawling literally creates patterns in a child’s brain that are crucial to their development. If these patterns are rushed or if you skip over them entirely, it can lead to future problems, generally not discovered until the child is ready to start school. It can lead to the brain literally not being wired correctly. And we know that the longer you reinforce patterns, the harder it is to change them.
So yes, we are adapting to a world with technology. But it is coming at a cost.
We are losing our neuroplasticity. We don’t have the repetition that we need in order to develop and grow.
Ever wondered why babies’ heads are so disproportionately large compared to their bodies? It’s because during these key developmental stages, babies are in neurogenesis which is the making of new nerves and networks. During pregnancy and during the first years of life the neurons that are practiced the most are reinforced while the remainder is pruned away. At around the age of 7 to 8 years old, our brain patterns become more cemented and now are “hard” wired. Here is the caveat, just because the pathways that were practiced the most, it doesn’t mean those pathways were the most efficient or expected.
One of the ways that you can test if your child is optimally moving through the developmental stages of lateralization, is to test their dominance. Put simply, adults are either left handed or right handed; so are young children. Around the age 4 years, little ones should demonstrate dominance. Regardless of which hand they prefer, they should also prefer the foot on the same side, as well as the ear, eye, etc on that side. So if you ask them to hold something up to their ear and listen, they should do it on the same side that their preferred hand is on. And if they don’t, it may be a sign of mixed laterality that may impact their development.
But do not worry if they don’t! We can help. If you’d like to send me a video, or come in for a consultation, here’s my number: (678) 501-5172
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