Key signs your child is struggling developmentally
“Why isn’t my child making eye contact?” “Why do they have a hard time connecting with others?” “Should I be concerned that they haven’t started talking?” If you find yourself asking these questions, you’re not alone. It’s common to have concerns about your child’s development.
Many families express concern regarding their child’s social development. Researchers even started analyzing whether the COVID pandemic has caused an increase in developmental delays.
Dr. Nisha Kakodkar, pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Medical Group in Aurora, Ill., clarifies, “There are many reasons why a child could be delayed socially. They could have subtle hearing loss that impacts their ability to speak on time or converse appropriately. They could have an undiagnosed medical condition, wearing them down physically, or they could have a neurodevelopmental condition like autism.”
If you’re unsure whether your child is behind developmentally, Dr. Kakodkar recommends the CDC’s newly updated checklist for early childhood development. This checklist provides an outline of expected developmental milestones for children ages 2 months old through 5 years old.
Dr. Kakodkar has also noticed an uptick in social anxiety among children, often manifesting as fearfulness around school re-entry and difficulty talking to new people. “This may be due to missed opportunities for social learning, putting them behind in their adaptive and social skills,” says Dr. Kakodkar.
She recommends the following advice for parents with these concerns: “Be patient. Understand children need time to cement basic social skills and deal with their anxiety. As a parent, I too have needed to practice patience many times, helping them grapple with challenges related to being in social isolation during formative maturing years.”
Whether there are concerns for developmental delays or social anxiety, Dr. Kakodkar says the best thing you can do is stay in constant dialogue with your child’s pediatrician. As a team, pediatricians and parents can help move children through this challenging time and grow to their full developmental potential.