There are so many lists of child expectations by ages: the age they should be potty trained by, the age they should settle on their own, the age they should know how to write their name, the age they should know their times tables, the age they should be able to read, the age they should be able to dress themselves. The lists are endless. Endless in their expectations. What these lists don’t allow for is individuality. Which is quite heartbreaking in reality.
From day one they’re compared. Compared to books, to standards of learning, to Barbara’s little Brian down the street. But the only standard a child should have to live up to is the standard of being themselves.
I have two boys. Two very different boys. Very close in age. It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap, even with siblings but it’s so important not to. They are different because they’re different! And that’s ok. More than ok.
At age seven alot of the milestones are academic in nature: reading, punctuation, timetables, fractions, division etc. But our milestones in this house are different.
By age seven I believe a child should;
…know that’s it’s ok to feel sad and have a adult who will sit through and hug through the sadness. Emotional regulation is one of the most valuable lessons to learn. We cannot feel happy all of the time and that’s ok.
…understand that kindness is a necessity and can change the world. Teach them to sit with the lonely, to befriend the friendless.
…always look for the helpers in tragic events. It will restore their faith in people.
…look for the magic and wonder in everyday life. Rocks are treasure. Sticks are magic wands. Imagination can last a lifetime if nurtured.
…learn to look uncomfortable situations head on and not walk away. When they see a homeless person let their first thought be “where can I go buy some food and a drink?” and not walk on by.
…learn it is ok to have an opinion that is not of the majority and that respect is a two way thing.
…know where to go for a cuddle any time of day or night. A safe place will provide a steady heart and mind.
…know that manners are not optional.
…look forward to their bedtime story with the people they love.
…know how to relax and take care of their mental health. It’s ok to slow down with them.
…understand that everybody is different and that is ok. Inside and out.
…have time to be bored. Being bored lets their imaginations flourish. It’s ok for your child to be bored. In fact, it’s good for them.
…have a lot of free play. Even at age seven play is a necessity. It’s still when they learn the most!
It’s ok for your child to need help in areas you think they should have mastered by society’s standards. You don’t need to compare them. Just nurture them as people. Don’t pressure them. Praise them. In the big and the small. Your voice becomes their inner voice. Make it a good one!